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Fifth Annual AACR Margaret Foti Award presented to Arthur D. Levinson, Ph.D.

ORLANDO, Fla. Arthur D. Levinson, Ph.D., chairman and former CEO of Genentech Inc., will receive the Fifth Annual American Association for Cancer Research Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held April 2-6.

This award recognizes an individual whose leadership and extraordinary achievements in cancer research, or in support of cancer research, have made a major impact on the field.

"Dr. Levinson revolutionized the approach to developing cancer therapeutics, which led to targeted drugs," said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. "It is because of his scientific insight and inspirational leadership that we have gained advancements in drug development and personalized healthcare, benefitting countless cancer patients."

While working in the Princeton laboratory of Dr. Arnold J. Levine as a graduate student, Levinson identified adenovirus encoded antigens that were required for its tumorigenic ability. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Drs. Mike Bishop and Harold Varmus at the University of California, San Francisco, Levinson discovered that the p60-Src protein was a membrane-associated phosphoprotein, and co-discovered it to be a protein kinase. This was the first description of an enzymatic activity to be associated with the product of an oncogene.

Levinson joined Genentech in 1980 as a senior scientist, and conducted research programs on oncogene function and mammalian gene expression. His lab provided formal proof that the src gene product was a tyrosine protein kinase. Other contributions to the research arena consisted of the demonstration that the ras gene product possessed intrinsic GTPase activity, whose activity is directly affected by mutations that activated the oncogenic potential of the gene. He also pioneered the development at Genentech of the first commercially efficient large-scale mammalian expression systems, now routinely used to produce therapeutic recombinant proteins.

As the leader of Genentech's R&D program, Levinson utilized a coordinated team approach, which led to the development of the cancer therapeutics Herceptin, Avastin and Rituxan. He also helped devise a systematic scientific approach to develop targeted biotherapeutics. An example of this approach involved the realization that implementing a diagnostic to classify breast cancer on the basis of HER2 expression would identify patients likely to respond to Herceptin. Though more commonplace now, at the time of this development it was a groundbreaking example of personalized healthcare.

Levinson joined Genentech, Inc. in 1980 as a research scientist. He was named senior vice president of research and development in 1993. He served as CEO from 1995 to 2009, and has been chairman of Genentech's board of directors since 1999. In 2010, Levinson was elected to the board of directors of Roche Holding Ltd.

Levinson serves on the board of scientific consultants of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, on the industrial advisory board of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, and on the advisory council for the Princeton University Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. He is a director of Apple, Amyris Inc., NGM Biopharmaceuticals, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Levinson previously served on the corporate board of Google, Inc.

Levinson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Irvington Institute's Corporate Leadership Award in Science, the National Breast Cancer Coalition's Corporate Leadership Award, Institutional Investor's Best Biotech CEO award, and Princeton University's James Madison Medal for a distinguished career in scientific research and in biotechnology. Barron's has repeatedly recognized Levinson as one of "The World's Most Respected CEOs." In 2008, he was elected as a fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Levinson has authored or co-authored more than 80 scientific articles and has been a named inventor on 11 U.S. patents. He was inducted into the Biotech Hall of Fame at the 2003 Biotech Meeting of chief executive officers.

Levinson received his Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of Washington in 1972. He conducted his graduate studies in biochemical sciences at Princeton University and received his doctorate in 1977.

The Fifth Annual AACR Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research will be presented at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011 during the Opening Ceremony.


Contact: Michele Sharp
American Association for Cancer Research

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