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Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research recognizes Axel Ullrich

PHILADELPHIA Axel Ullrich, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2008 Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research for his pioneering work in the translation of genomics-based discoveries into novel approaches for cancer therapy. Ullrich is the Director of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, and is a renowned expert in gene technology and one of the most frequently cited cancer scientists in the area of signal transduction research.

We are proud to honor Axel Ullrich, a brilliant scientist whose work is an exceptional triumph for biomedical research, said AACR Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.). His study of EGFR proteins and gene expression technology has benefitted countless individuals with cancer and has substantial implications for future advances in cancer research.

The award, now in its 11th year, recognizes an individual who has made a major scientific discovery in basic or translational cancer research. Ullrich will give his award lecture in San Diego, Calif. during the AACR Annual Meeting on April 13, 2008 at noon in Halls G & H of the San Diego Convention Center.

In Ullrichs honor, the Pezcoller Foundation will hold an award ceremony in early May in Trento, Italy, where he will receive a cash award of 75,000.

Lauded for his contributions to the discovery of the HER2/neu oncogene, Ullrich is an international leader in cancer research whose work has helped introduce an era of personalized medicine not only for the treatment of breast cancer, but also for other cancers. His strategy of genomics-based, target-driven drug development has helped to revolutionize the way cancer is studied and treated, and he is being honored for his ingenuity and insight into attacking the cancer problem through his study of signal transduction and genetics.

For more than 25 years, Ullrich has led the cancer research field in gene technology, studying gene expression and translating basic science discoveries into clinical applications and therapies. In the gene technology fields early days, Ullrich and his colleagues were the first to clone the genes of medically important proteins including the precursor to insulin, which led to the development of Humulin, the first therapeutic agent to be developed through gene-based technology. This research led to further study of the molecular genetic characterization of cell surface receptors through which Ullrich ushered in a new field of study, signal transduction. Ullrichs work in signal transduction research has uncovered fundamental molecular mechanisms that determine the physiology of normal cells and has provided insights into similar mechanisms in other major human diseases.

Ullrichs recent work led to the development of the first multi-targeted kinase inhibitor, SU1128/SUTENT which was approved by the FDA in 2006 for the treatment of kidney carcinoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. He is currently investigating the impact of SNPs on cancer progression, susceptibility, resistance, and therapy response. In his laboratory, Ullrich continues to lead basic research focusing on characterizing additional relevant receptor proteins, with the goal of developing new, more targeted cancer therapies.

Recognized widely and often for his tremendous scientific achievements, Ullrichs awards and honors include: the Robert Koch Prize; the Clifford Prize for Cancer Research; the ASMR Medal from the Australian Society for Medical Research and the Warren Alpert Prize from Harvard Medical School. Ullrich is also an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and an honorary member of the World Innovation Foundation. A member of the American Association for Cancer Research since 1995, Ullrich serves on the editorial board of Cancer Research and received the AACR Bruce F. Cain Memorial Award in 2000.

Ullrich studied biochemistry at the University of Tuebingen in Germany and earned a Ph.D. in molecular genetics at the University of Heidelberg.


Contact: Jennifer Ryan
American Association for Cancer Research

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