‘Father of Tamoxifen’ receives Sir James Black Award

V. Craig Jordan, Ph.D., a breast cancer research pioneer known for his development of the therapeutic drug tamoxifen, has been named a recipient of the Sir James Black Award from the British Pharmacological Society.

Jordan, a professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will be presented the award today at the award ceremony to take place in London. The award recognizes scientists for discoveries of important principles for drug treatment.

The award is named for Sir James W. Black, a Nobel-prize winning scientist known for his discovery of the beta blocker propranolol and the H2 blocker cimetidine which contributed significantly in the treatment of angina and stomach ulcers. Black was chancellor of the University of Dundee, Scotland.

Jordan is credited with reinventing a failed contraceptive (known as ICI 46,474) as a breast cancer treatment. The drug, in existence since the 1960s, was originally created to block estrogen in the hopes of preventing pregnancy. Jordan developed the strategy of long-term adjuvant tamoxifen therapy, as well as describing and deciphering the properties of a new group of medicines called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). He was the first to discover the preventive abilities of both tamoxifen and the drug raloxifene. The medicines were approved by the Food and Drug Administration for reducing breast cancer incidence in high-risk women.

“This is indeed a tremendous honor and further recognition of Dr. Jordan’s historic contributions to cancer therapeutics,” said Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D., executive vice president and provost at MD Anderson. “It is an award well-deserved and I commend Dr. Jordan on this major achievement.”

Jordan joined MD Anderson in 2014 where he focuses on the new biology of estrogen-induced cell death with the goal of developing translational approaches for treating and preventing cancer. His long and distinguished career has included leadership positions at some of the world’s most prestigious biomedical institutions. Prior to joining MD Anderson, he served as scientific director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and the Vincent T. Lombardi Chair of Translational Cancer Research.

Jordan also served as vice chairman of the Department of Oncology and professor of oncology and pharmacology at Georgetown University’s Medical School. In addition, he’s a visiting professor of molecular medicine at the University of Leeds in England, and an adjunct professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry at Northwestern University in Chicago.

In addition to his National Academy membership, Jordan’s list of achievements, awards and accomplishments is long, featuring more than four-dozen international awards. The list includes:

  • The St. Gallen Prize for Breast Cancer (2011)
  • The David A. Karnofsky Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2008)
  • The George and Christine Sosnovsky Award in Cancer Therapy (2004)
  • The Charles F. Kettering Prize (2003)
  • The American Cancer Society Medal of Honor (2002)
  • The Dorothy P. Landon Award in Translational Research from the American Association for Cancer Research (2002)
  • The Bristol Myers Squibb Award (2001)
  • The Cameron Prize from the University of Edinburgh (1993)

Jordan has received six honorary fellowships or degrees from universities around the world including an honorary fellowship from the Royal Society of Medicine. In 2010, he was elected president of the Royal Society of Medicine Foundation of North America. Jordan was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the United Kingdom’s equivalent to the Institute of Medicine.

He has contributed to more than 700 publications, 99 percent of which pertain to cancer research. He has edited 11 books and has more than 26,000 scientific citations. He’s author of the book “Tamoxifen, Pioneering Medicine in Breast Cancer.”

Jordan, who was born in New Braunfels, Texas and raised in England, has dual British and U.S. citizenship. In 2002, he received the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II for services to international breast cancer research. He earned a Ph.D. and D.Sc. from the University of Leeds and in 2001 received an honorary M.D. from his alma mater.