Scientist honored for studies of genetic influence on chemotherapy, tumor development


Lowe receives AACR-National Foundation for Cancer Research professorship in basic cancer research

Scott W. Lowe, Ph.D. discusses "p53 Tumor Suppressor Pathway" at the 92nd Annual Meeting.

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Scott W. Lowe, Ph.D., professor and deputy director at the cancer center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., is the recipient of the fourth American Association for Cancer Research-National Foundation for Cancer Research Professorship in Basic Cancer Research for greatly enlarging our understanding of the genetic factors that influence the aging and death of cancer cells.

The professorship was established in 2000 in honor of NFCR founders Tamara and Franklin Salisbury, Sr., to recognize a senior scientist at the level of associate professor or professor who currently is engaged in an active research career anywhere in the world, and who has demonstrated extraordinary achievement in basic cancer research. It is awarded to an individual who shows promise for continued substantive contributions to basic cancer research, and is intended to foster the research productivity of the recipient by enabling him or her to devote more time to basic research. The professorship provides a one-year grant of $50,000 in support of direct research expenses, beginning July 1, 2004.

Of the several awards given by the AACR the world's oldest and largest professional society representing cancer scientists from the United States and more than 60 other countries the AACR-NFCR professorship honors and fosters world class accomplishments among scientists still at a relatively early stage of their careers in basic research, clinical care, therapeutics and prevention.

"Dr. Lowe's finding that genetic mutations influence the selection of cancer cells for programmed cell death puts him at the threshold of significant advances in chemotherapy," said AACR chief executive officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), adding, "His accomplishments to date are evidence of his potential for further stellar work in cancer research.

"In addition to his demonstration that mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene are a primary cause of resistance to apoptosis in cancer cells, Dr. Lowe has shown that the p53 pathway, including proteins such as p19, Arf, Apaf-1 and capase-9, is responsible for inducing apoptosis in cancer cells in response to chemotherapeutic agents."

NFCR science director Sujuan Ba, Ph.D., added, "Chemotherapy today remains the most used technique for battling cancer and Dr. Lowe is on the front lines of this research. His research in the genetic understanding of cellular life and death is exactly what will allow us to continue to make gains in how cancer is treated, diagnosed and eventually defeated."

Lowe's early research focused on the relationship between p53 gene mutation status and the resistance of cancer cells to radiation and chemotherapy. Currently, he and his colleagues are beginning to assemble the genetic components of the p53 pathway into a tumor suppressor network, with the intent of discovering how oncogenes or DNA damaging agents signal p53, how p53 responds biologically, and the factors that influence whether p53 induces a cell-cycle checkpoint, senescence or apoptosis. He has also employed mouse models for human cancer, such as the Em-myc oncogene-induced lymphoma in the mouse, to study cancer progression and the relationship between cancer mutations and the response of genetically defined tumors to therapy.

Previously, Lowe was honored by the AACR with its 2001 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research, for his work on the p53 tumor suppressor gene; and, in 1993, he received an AACR Scholar-in-Training Award on the strength of his cell death research.

Tamara and Franklin Salisbury, Sr., founded the NFCR in 1973. Franklin, an attorney and entrepreneur, and Tamara, a research chemist at the National Cancer Institute and a project officer in the chemistry branch of the Office of Naval Research, were inspired by the work of Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of vitamin C.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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