Tony Hunter and Raymond N. DuBois awarded Landon-AACR Prizes for Cancer Research

03/01/04

Two scientists whose landmark discoveries in basic and translational research set the stage for new ways to treat and prevent cancer are being honored this year with the prestigious Landon-AACR Prizes for Cancer Research.

These prizes, offered by the Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation and the American Association for Cancer Research, are the largest offered to cancer researchers from a professional society of their peers. Each recipient receives an unrestricted cash award of $200,000 and presents a scientific lecture at the AACR Annual Meeting, held this year from March 27-31 in Orlando, Florida.

This year's winners are:

  • Tony Hunter, Ph.D., professor of molecular and cell biology at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., who has been awarded the Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Research; and
  • Raymond N. DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., the Hortense B. Ingram Professor of Molecular Oncology and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's associate director for cancer prevention, control and population-based research, in Nashville, Tenn., who has been awarded the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research.

"The work of these two scientists has resulted in significant breakthroughs in our understanding, treatment and prevention of cancer today," said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), AACR's chief executive officer. "We are very proud to present such prestigious prizes for basic and translational research to such outstanding scientists."

Since 1979, Tony Hunter has been investigating the role of critical molecular signals in the regulation, development and growth of cells and what happens when this process goes awry in cancer. Among other significant findings, Hunter discovered how phosphate molecules stimulate cell growth when they are attached to proteins by enzymes called tyrosine kinases. Hunter's work has led to intensive study of these kinases worldwide, which ultimately yielded several anti-cancer drugs that block the activity of tyrosine kinases. Many of these drugs are now undergoing clinical trials, and one – Gleevec – has been approved for treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia.

"I'm honored to have received this prestigious award from the Landon Foundation and the AACR," said Hunter. "I hope that this recognition underscores the vital importance of basic research in developing new treatments for cancer, and that it heralds an era of cancer treatments that can specifically halt cancer cells with a minimum of adverse effects."

Raymond DuBois is being honored for his groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of the role of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 or COX-2 in cancer and the potential for COX-2 inhibition in preventing and treating cancers. Dr. DuBois was the first to report the link between COX-2 and colon cancer, which set in motion later work that defined potential mechanisms and chemopreventive strategies to inhibit this enzyme's activity. Dr. DuBois performed the bench research that formed the underpinnings for this line of studies, and he then carried his findings into clinical trials. Several COX-2 inhibitor drugs, which suppress inflammation in the body, have either been approved or are being tested in patients to combat tumor formation and growth.

"I was surprised and humbled to learn that I'd been chosen to receive the Dorothy P. Landon Prize for Translational Cancer Research. It's a tremendous honor," said Dr. DuBois.

"Throughout my career I have been very fortunate to be associated with outstanding laboratory staff, students, postdocs and collaborators who have kept the faith and made this work possible.

"Recognition, such as this Landon award, is important to promote translational research activity and we are acutely aware of the need to hasten our efforts to better understand strategies and targets for cancer prevention so that we may save lives and reduce morbidity from this dreaded disease."

The Landon-AACR Prizes in Cancer Research were launched in the summer of 2002 to promote, recognize and reward seminal contributions to our understanding of cancer through basic and translational cancer research. These distinguished scientific prizes bring heightened public attention to landmark achievements in the continuing effort to prevent and cure cancer through quality research.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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