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Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research Recognizes Joseph Schlessinger, Ph.D.

April 14, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Joseph Schlessinger, Ph.D., will receive the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research for elucidating the mechanism of action of receptor tyrosine kinases and their intracellular signaling pathways which led to discovery of new families of cancer drugs for the treatment of renal cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumors.

The Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award, now in its 13th year, recognizes an individual scientist of international renown who has made a major scientific discovery in basic or translational cancer research.

Schlessinger, the William H. Prusoff professor and chair of the department of pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine, will accept this award at the AACR 101st Annual Meeting 2010.

“Dr. Schlessinger’s pioneering research has had, and continues to have, an incredible impact on the cancer field,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “His work encompasses cutting-edge cell signaling and cell biology, biochemistry and biomedical research and has successfully translated these fundamental discoveries from the lab to the clinic, profoundly affecting patient treatment. We salute his groundbreaking accomplishments with the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research.”

Schlessinger’s studies have provided the conceptual foundation and paved the way for the discovery of new families of cancer drugs that inhibit receptor tyrosine kinase, including Sutent (sunitinib), a drug approved by the FDA in 2006 for the treatment of renal cancers and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. More recently, Plexxikon, Inc., a company that Schlessinger co-founded, has developed an inhibitor of the mutated form of B-Raf. After promising Phase I results, this drug (PLX-4032) made headlines last year as a new hope for melanoma therapy.

Further, his work has led to the development of erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa), which are EGFR inhibitors used for treating colon and lung cancers, plus imatinib (Gleevec), an inhibitor used for treating patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia or gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Schlessinger is the founder of SUGEN, Inc., Plexxikon, Inc. and Kolltan, Inc.

Among Schlessinger’s many awards and honors, he was elected to the National Academy of Science; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies; and the European Academy of Sciences. He is an honorary member of The Japanese Biochemical Society and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Haifa, Israel.

Schlessinger earned his bachelor’s (1968) and master’s (1969) degrees from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1974, he earned his doctorate in chemical physics from The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. He conducted his postdoctoral work at Cornell University.

Schlessinger will present a lecture entitled “Cell signaling by receptor tyrosine kinases: from basic principles to cancer therapy” during the AACR 101st Annual Meeting 2010 on Monday, April 19, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET, in Ballroom C of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

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Download interviews with cancer researchers and recordings of the teleconferences by subscribing to the AACR Scientific Podcasts via iTunes or an RSS Reader.

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 31,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowship and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Michele Leiberman
(267) 646-0622
In Washington, D.C.
April 17-21: (202) 249-4098

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