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Dr. Nima Sharifi Recognized With 2014 AACR Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research Award

March 6, 2014
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SAN DIEGO — Nima Sharifi, M.D., Kendrick family endowed chair for prostate cancer research, Department of Cancer Biology, Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, will be recognized with the 34th Annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research Award at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, to be held in San Diego, Calif., April 5-9.

Since 1979, the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research has honored an investigator younger than 40 years of age to recognize his or her meritorious achievements within the field of cancer research.

Sharifi is being recognized for his seminal contributions as a young investigator to the field of prostate cancer biology. He will present his lecture, “Androgen Metabolism Drivers in Prostate Cancer: From Mechanism to Therapy,” Monday, April 7, 4:30 p.m. PT, in room 20D in the San Diego Convention Center.

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected for the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research. I am particularly humbled in light of the magnitude of the work and stature of scientists previously recognized by this award,” Sharifi said. “I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have made this possible, including my scientific colleagues in the lab, our collaborators, my scientific and clinical mentors who have helped me along the way, patients who have volunteered for our studies, and of course my family and wife, for their support.”

Sharifi made significant contributions to the field of cancer research through his focus on the clinical importance of androgen synthesis in advanced hormone-resistant prostate cancers. Sharifi challenged the generally accepted idea that testosterone is an obligate intermediate metabolite that undergoes a 5α-reduction to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) from adrenal precursor steroids in castration-resistant prostate cancer. Using tissues obtained by biopsies of his patients’ metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, he demonstrated that a different steroid, androstenedione, undergoes 5α-reduction to 5α-androstanedione en route to DHT, which drives tumor progression.

Although it was already known that DHT concentrations in castration-resistant prostate cancer are sufficiently present to drive AR function, there was no identified mutation described until Sharifi’s recent identification of the first gain-of-function mutation, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1, which increases the metabolic flux from steroid precursors to DHT, and is responsible for the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Sharifi has also been recognized with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician-Scientist Early Career Award, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award, a Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award, and two National Cancer Institute (NCI) research grants.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania. He completed his residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut and a fellowship at the NCI.



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