M. D. Anderson's President Honored With Prestigious Award From the American Society of Clinical Oncology
Dr. John Mendelsohn, president of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, will receive the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) for his pioneering research in the development of monoclonal antibodies to block growth factor receptors.
The Karnofsky Award is given annually to an individual whose research has changed the way oncologists approach the treatment of cancer. Dr. Mendelsohn also will present the Karnofsky Memorial Lecture on the opening day of ASCO's 38th annual meeting, May 18, in Orlando.
ASCO is the world's leading professional organization of physicians specializing in cancer, and includes 18,000 professional members from 100 countries worldwide.
"I am honored to join the circle of cancer researchers who have received the Karnofsky Award," Dr. Mendelsohn said. "This is an exciting time to be in cancer research because of the tremendous progress we are making. Discoveries in molecular biology and the success of the genome project have given us new knowledge and technologies to speed up the movement of research from the laboratory to the patient. The new therapies are targeting specific molecular and genetic abnormalities in the cancer cell, which means improved efficacy and less toxicity."
For almost three decades, Dr. Mendelsohn has been at the forefront of understanding how growth factors regulate the proliferation of cancer cells by activating receptors on the surface of the cells that control key cell signaling pathways. He and his colleagues developed specific monoclonal antibodies that block the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF receptor), thereby preventing growth factors from stimulating cancer cell growth and division.
His research led to the development of a monoclonal antibody, C225, now in clinical trials at about a dozen cancer centers worldwide for patients with lung, head and neck, colon and pancreatic cancers.
Dr. Mendelsohn was named president of M. D. Anderson in July 1996 after a distinguished career at both the University of California, San Diego and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
Under Dr. Mendelsohn's leadership, M. D. Anderson has experienced the greatest growth in its history. Patients served have increased 49 percent, and M. D. Anderson now treats approximately 25 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer patients in Houston, 10 percent of those in Texas and about one of 100 in the United States. Total research expenditures have increased 74 percent since 1996. Also, M. D. Anderson has received more grants from the National Cancer Institute than any institution in the country for the last six years.
During 1997, Dr. Mendelsohn received the Raymond Bourgine Award and the Gold Medal of Paris in recognition of his translational research contributions. In 1999, he received both The Breast Cancer Foundation's Jill Rose Award for research leading to improved therapies for breast cancer, and the Joseph H. Burchenal Clinical Research Award from the American Association for Cancer Research. He was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1997.
Dr. Mendelsohn and his wife, Anne, participate in multiple civic activities in Houston. He is a trustee of the Houston Grand Opera, on the Executive Committee of the Greater Houston Partnership, the Board of Governors of the Houston Forum, and a founding director of the Houston Technology Center and BioHouston. He also serves on the Board of Directors of ImClone Systems, Inc., which licensed his monoclonal antibody from the University of California and is managing the clinical trials with C225, now known commercially as Erbitux.