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Mendelsohn elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

HOUSTON John Mendelsohn, M.D., director of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and former president of MD Anderson, has been elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The 230-year-old academy established to cultivate the arts and sciences and to gather scholars, professionals, government officials and business leaders to work together in the national interest, announced its new fellows today. Only current fellows may nominate others to join the academy.

"I am honored to be joining this collection of thinkers from many walks of life and look forward to collaborating with them to address important public issues," Mendelsohn said.

In addition to its role as a prestigious honorary society, the academy is a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications and studies of science, technology, energy, global security, the humanities, culture and education.

"Election to this prestigious group recognizes John Mendelsohn's achievements as a scientist, physician and leader," said MD Anderson President Ron DePinho, M.D., and an academy fellow. "As a fellow, he will have a vibrant forum to lend his deep insights to policy research and development, to the great benefit of our country and humanity."

Mendelsohn, president of MD Anderson from 1996-2011, also is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and has participated in or led a variety of studies there, including one proposing reform of cancer clinical trials.

He also is the L.E. and Virginia Simmons Fellow in Health and Technology Policy at Rice University's Baker Institute. His work there focuses on the identification and evaluation of new health technologies, therapeutics and best practices as well as the promotion of policy recommendations to improve national and global health outcomes.

As director of MD Anderson's personalized cancer treatment institute, he leads efforts to tailor cancer treatment to individual patients by analyzing tumor genetics to match an optimal, targeted therapy to their disease.

Mendelsohn is a pioneer in the development of targeted therapy. His research on how the binding of growth factors to receptors on the surface of cells regulates cell functions led to his development of an antibody to block growth signals to the epidermal growth factor receptor. The resultant drug, known as cetuximab or Erbitux, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat colon and head and neck cancers.

Academy fellows announced Wednesday are an eclectic group, including a variety of scientists and professionals as well as singer Bruce Springsteen, actor Robert DeNiro and novelist Annie Dillard.

Mendelsohn served for 10 years as the founding editor-in-chief of the journal, Clinical Cancer Research, and on numerous editorial boards. He has been honored many times for his contributions to cancer research with major awards, including the Joseph H. Burchenal Clinical Research Award from the American Association for Cancer Research (1999), the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2002), the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal (2005), the Dan David Prize in Cancer Therapy (2006), the Dorothy P. Landon AACR Prize for Translational Research (2008), and the Sixth Annual AACR Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research (2012).

New fellows of the American Academy will be inducted at a ceremony Oct. 12 at the academy's headquarters in Cambridge. A list of the honorees for 2013 is posted at


Contact: Scott Merville
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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