In the early 1990s, Ullrich identified the signaling system involved in regulating tumor angiogenesis, the growth of blood vessels in tumors. He discovered that inhibiting a key player in the signaling system (called vascular endothelial growth factor receptor or VEGFR) suppresses the generation of blood vessels in tumors and slows down cancer cell growth. Years later, a small molecule inhibitor of the VEGFR2 kinase function was developed, from which a derivative was approved in 2006 for the treatment of kidney carcinoma and gastro-intestinal stromal tumors.
"It is an honor to receive an award of this stature and to be recognized among so many outstanding scientists," said Ullrich. "Dr. Paul is a legend whose work had a tremendous impact on combating some of the world's most serious diseases. Four of the more than 80 medicines he developed are on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines."
"Johnson & Johnson is pleased the Selection Committee chose Dr. Ullrich as the recipient of the 2009 Dr. Paul Janssen Award, as we believe that his discoveries capture the spirit and legacy of Dr. Paul," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., global head, Research & Development, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson. "Dr. Paul's passion for his work and dedication to creating life-saving therapies for the individuals most in need should continue to serve as an inspiration to the scientific community as we carry on with our quest to care for the world, one patient at a time."
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