London, 1 July, 2009 Johnson & Johnson today announced that Axel Ullrich, Ph.D., director of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany, whose discoveries have led to novel cancer therapies including Herceptin (trastuzumab) , is the winner of the 2009 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research. An independent committee of world-renowned scientists selected Dr. Ullrich, who on September 8 will receive a $100,000 prize during a ceremony in Beerse, Belgium.
"Dr. Ullrich was chosen for his pioneering work in applying molecular biology and molecular cloning to the discovery of protein therapeutics for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including diabetes and cancer," said Solomon Snyder, M.D., distinguished service professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and chairman of The Dr. Paul Janssen Award Selection Committee.
"He is one of few basic scientists whose work not only has influenced academic research, but also has helped millions of patients suffering from major chronic diseases," Snyder continued. "We received a number of outstanding nominations for this year's Award and are pleased to acknowledge Dr. Ullrich with this distinction. His work has had a remarkable impact on human health and truly embodies the efforts of the Award's namesake, 'Dr. Paul,' who helped save millions of lives through his contribution to the discovery and development of more than 80 medicines."
Ullrich has pioneered the translation of genomics-based discoveries into novel approaches for the treatment of major diseases. Working at Genentech, Inc. in the early 1980s, he developed genetically engineered human insulin, the first therapeutic derived from gene cloning. In 1987, Ullrich and collaborators discovered that the neu/HER2 gene is amplified and overexpressed in more than 30 percent of invasive breast cancers. HER2 was chosen for the development of
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