Morton K. Schwartz Award for Significant Contributions in Cancer Research Diagnostics
Dr. Lilja is an attending research clinical chemist in the department of laboratory medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, an adjunct professor in the department of laboratory medicine at Lund University in Malmö, Sweden, and a Finland Distinguished Professor at the University of Tampere, Finland. Dr. Lilja's discovery that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) occurs in blood either bound to antiproteases or unbound, and that the free-to-total PSA ratio is a strong independent risk factor for prostate cancer, led to widespread implementation of the free PSA assay as one of the few cancer biomarkers. His current research projects focus on biomarker discovery and assays, and clinical validation of biomarkers in population-based cohorts with long-term follow-up. His recent research has shown the association between PSA levels in the top decile before age 50 and prostate cancer deaths up to 30 years later; the low risk of prostate cancer death among men with low PSA levels at age 60; kallikrein markers that can help to determine who should have prostate biopsy; single nucleotide polymorphisms that could play a role in cancer detection; a test for androgen receptor-signaling in circulating tumor cells that could be associated with survival in castration-resistant prostate cancer; and a PSA-targeted radiotracer that can noninvasively visualize metastatic prostate cancer lesions and quantify responses to antiandrogen treatment. Dr. Lilja has authored or co-authored 238 peer-reviewed scientific reports, 59 review articles, 21 meeting reports, and 17 textbook chapters. He holds 12 patents issued in Europe, the United States, and Japan. Dr. Lilja is a member of the editorial board of several journals and has received many honors, including the Abbott Award from the International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers.