The 2018 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science recognizes targeted cancer therapy pioneer John Mendelsohn, M.D., for his leadership in developing antibodies to block cancer-promoting growth factor receptors on the surface of cancer cells.
Mendelsohn, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center from 1996 to 2011, is a professor of Genomic Medicine and director of MD Anderson’s Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy. He also is the L.E. & Virginia Simmons Senior Fellow in the Division of Health and Technology Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute.
The honor cites Mendelsohn’s role in conceiving the approach of using antibodies to target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is overexpressed or mutated to a cancer-promoting form in a variety of cancers. Then at the University of California at San Diego, working with colleague Gordon Sato, Ph.D., Mendelsohn and his team conducted preclinical research and developed the anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab (Erbitux®), which went on to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating colon cancer and head and neck cancers.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Tang Foundation with colleagues who opened such an important chapter of cancer research,” says Mendelsohn. “By highlighting the vital connection between basic research and progress in the clinic, the Tang Foundation encourages the progress we need in scientific, translational and clinical research to continue to improve cancer treatment.”