News Release
Fergus J. Couch, PhD
Fergus J. Couch, PhD

PHILADELPHIA – The Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, the world’s first comprehensive center aimed at advancing research, treatment, and prevention of BRCA-related cancers, has announced that Fergus J. Couch, PhD, chair of the division of Experimental Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Mayo Clinic, is the recipient of the 10th annual Basser Global Prize.

Each year, the Basser Global Prize recognizes a leading scientist who has advanced BRCA1 and BRCA2-related research. Individuals with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are at an increased risk of breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

Couch’s work includes the study of genetic alterations and their impact on the development of both breast and pancreatic cancer using genomics and cell biological approaches. His key focus areas include identification of hereditary genes and mutations that predispose people to cancer, and improving clinical testing for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 and other cancer susceptibility genes, to identify individuals at increased risk of cancer, and to improve risk prediction in high-risk patients. 

“It’s an honor to recognize a distinguished researcher whose goals are steadfast in better predicting risk of breast and pancreatic cancer through genetic testing and discovery, facilitating cancer prevention efforts, and improving treatment methods,” said Susan M. Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA. “It’s this commitment to innovation and discovery that will propel us toward improved therapies for patients.”

Couch, who received his BSc and PhD in biochemistry from the University College Cork in Ireland, is the Zbigniew and Anna M. Scheller Professor of Medical Research affiliated with the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Center for Individualized Medicine. He is a principal investigator of the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Registry and the cofounder of several international consortia that are focused on better understanding inherited predisposition to cancer.

“I am extremely honored to be selected for this award by the Basser Center, which is known worldwide for its amazing progress in BRCA-related research that improves the care of patients with inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations,” Couch said.

Couch will give the keynote address at the 11th annual Basser Center for BRCA Scientific Symposium on May 9, 2023.

The Basser Global Prize provides $100,000 in unrestricted support of the winner's BRCA1 and BRCA2-related research efforts, a Basser sculpture, and a $10,000 personal prize, which will be awarded at the symposium.

The Basser Center was established in 2012 by University of Pennsylvania alumni Mindy and Jon Gray in memory of Mindy Gray’s sister Faith Basser, who died of ovarian cancer at age 44. Mindy’s sister Shari and her husband, Len Potter, established and endowed the Basser Global Prize.


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