V. Craig Jordan, Ph.D., elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Pioneering breast cancer researcher earns membership in elite group

V. Craig Jordan, Ph.D., professor of Breast Medical Oncology, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine for his discovery of selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), a class of drugs with far-reaching impact on women’s health.

Jordan’s findings include application of the original SERM, the estrogen-blocking drug tamoxifen, to the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, and discovery that raloxifene prevents both osteoporosis and breast cancer. The two widely used drugs are among five SERMS approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a variety of indications and all five are connected to basic research in Jordan’s laboratory.

“Election to the National Academy of Medicine recognizes Dr. Jordan’s outstanding accomplishments in research that have saved the lives and improved the health of millions of women,” said MD Anderson President ad Interim Marshall Hicks, M.D. “We’re pleased to have him working with our teams at MD Anderson to improve cancer prevention and treatment.”

The NAM is formerly the Institute of Medicine, which was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected to the NAM by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Membership is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service. 

“My whole career as a pharmacologist has been dedicated to improving targeted breast cancer treatment. I’m gratified to have had that opportunity through my research and to have those contributions recognized by my peers,” said Jordan, who also holds the Dallas/Fort Worth Living Legend Chair of Cancer Research at MD Anderson, and is a professor of Molecular and Cellular Oncology.

Jordan was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 for his work on tamoxifen and her majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed him to the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to international breast cancer research, an honor equivalent to the National Medal of Science in the United States.

He is recognized internationally for his discovery of SERMs; in 2017 the U.S. Endocrine Society awarded him Laureate of the Gerald Aurbach Prize in translational research. Also, recently the German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics recognized Jordan as one of the “Big Four of the Millennium” who established current standards of women’s health care and the British Pharmacological Society awarded Jordan the Sir James Black Award for contributions to drug discovery.

When Jordan was recruited to MD Anderson in 2015 he had been identified by the American Society of Clinical Oncology as one of the 50 luminaries that had changed cancer care in the past 50 years.

With the election of Jordan, MD Anderson now has 10 members of the National Academy of Medicine: Maura Gillison, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology; Guillermina Lozano, Ph.D., chair of Genetics; David Piwnica-Worms,m M.D., Ph.D., chair of Cancer Systems Imaging; Waun Ki Hong, M.D., professor of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology; Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., professor of Experimental Radiation Oncology; Ronald DePinho, M.D., former president and professor of Cancer Biology; John Mendelsohn, M.D., former president and director of the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy; Ellen Gritz, Ph.D., professor emerita, Behavioral Science; and Jim Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology.