Michael J. Powell, PhD '11

Michael Powell


Director of Scientific Programs, Executive Office
American Association for Cancer Research
Philadelphia, PA

Michael J. Powell, PhD '11

Dr. Michael J. Powell earned his PhD in Genetics from Thomas Jefferson University in 2011. His dissertation entitled, “Characterization of SIRT1 Function in Prostate Development, Homeostasis, and Cancer” was overseen by his graduate advisor, Dr. Richard G. Pestell and was dedicated to deciphering the role of the NAD-dependent histone deacetylase, SIRT1 in modulating normal physiological processes in the prostate and led to the discovery that dysregulation of SIRT1 contributes to prostate carcinogenesis. In addition to his research dedicated to understanding the molecular drivers of prostate cancer, Dr. Powell also contributed to secondary research projects dedicated to investigating breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, neuronal cell development, as well as various cellular processes including autophagy.

Following this research, Dr. Powell began his post-doctoral studies at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Carolyn A. Felix, conducting clinical and translational research aimed at defining cell death mechanisms induced by chemotherapeutic agents within infant acute myeloid leukemia patients. These studies also included the investigation of genetic defects associated with defective hematopoiesis.

Immediately following his postdoctoral studies, Dr. Powell transitioned from the academia sector to the nonprofit American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), where he began as a staff scientist and scientific program administrator. The AACR serves as the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The AACR’s membership now contains more than 48,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers, other health care professionals, and patient advocates residing in 127 countries and territories. Through its wide array of programs, the AACR leverages the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

Dr. Powell is currently Director of Scientific Programs with the AACR’s Executive Office where he oversees a team dedicated to conceptualizing and administering programs designed to drive the scientific agenda of the organization. Specifically, he oversees all AACR scientific working groups dedicated to various scientific disciplines (cancer evolution, cancer immunology, cancer prevention, chemistry in cancer research, molecular epidemiology, pediatric cancer, radiation science and medicine, tumor microenvironment), all AACR scientific achievement awards and lectureships, and all annual AACR committee and association group appointments. He also created and continues to oversee the organization’s AACR Academy program, which serves to recognize and honor distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. By leveraging the expertise of the global brain trust of Fellows of the AACR Academy, Dr. Powell works to advance the mission of the AACR to prevent and cure all cancers through research, education, communication, collaboration, science policy and advocacy, and funding for cancer research.