Pioneer in the genetics of programmed cell death honored

02/16/04

Korsmeyer receives Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research

Stanley J. Korsmeyer, M.D., Sidney Farber professor of pathology and professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is the recipient of the seventh annual Pezcoller Foundation-American Association for Cancer Research International Award for Cancer Research, for his pioneering studies in programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

The award, established in 1997, recognizes an individual who has made a major scientific discovery in basic or translational cancer research. It is given annually to honor a scientist who has made significant contributions to our understanding of cancer.

Korsmeyer will give an award lecture at the 95th AACR Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., March 27-31, 2004. His talk, entitled "Gateways to Apoptosis," will be at noon on Sunday, March 28, in Hall E of the Orange County Convention Center. In honor of Korsmeyer, the Pezcoller Foundation will hold an award ceremony later in the spring, at its location in Trento, Italy. Korsmeyer will receive a cash prize of 75,000 and a medallion.

A series of awards is given annually by the AACR the world's oldest and largest professional society representing cancer scientists from the United States and more than 60 other countries to recognize world-class accomplishments in basic research, clinical care, therapeutics and prevention.

"Dr. Korsmeyer's observations really opened the molecular era in the study of apoptosis," said AACR chief executive officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.).

"He defined the role of the genetic mechanisms that govern cell death and survival a discovery that is already having a significant impact on the development of individualized treatments of lymphomas and other cancers," she said, adding,

"Dr. Korsmeyer's research has had a widespread impact not only on the genesis and treatment of cancer, but also more broadly on biology and medicine. Indeed, his insights have altered our fundamental concepts of organ development and cellular homeostasis."

Korsmeyer's experiments on lymphoma cell lines and genetic mouse models established that the oncogene BCL-2 plays a primary role in blocking cell death. As a result, BCL-2 became the archetype of a new category of oncogenes: regulators of cell death. Recently, in the last two years, Korsmeyer identified distinct roles for BCL-2 members. His rigorous analysis of these novel proteins established a mammalian apoptotic pathway and placed multiple landmarks along its course.

A native of Beardstown, Ill., Korsmeyer received both his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Illinois, and served his internship and residency at the University of California Hospitals, San Francisco. He resides in Weston, Mass.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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