OncLive Honors 15 Trailblazers With Giants of Cancer Care Program

Jason Harris
Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2019
2018 Giants of Cancer Care Fifteen world-renowned leaders in hematology and oncology whose research has improved and extended the lives of millions of patients make up the 2019 class of Giants of Cancer Care® award winners. This year's recipients include physician–scientists who conducted groundbreaking clinical trials, made important discoveries in cancer genetics, and are developing cutting-edge therapeutics to provide personalized patient care.

The 2019 Giants of Cancer Care® award winners and their respective categories are:
  • Eric P. Winer, MD—Breast Cancer
  • Charles M. Perou, PhD—Cancer Diagnostics
  • Richard Pazdur, MD—Community Outreach, Education, and/or Cancer Policy
  • Alan P. Venook, MD—Gastrointestinal Cancer
  • Bernard J. Escudier, MD—Genitourinary Cancer
  • Beth Y. Karlan, MD—Gynecologic Malignancies
  • Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD—Leukemia
  • David H. Johnson, MD—Lung Cancer
  • Saul A. Rosenberg, MD—Lymphoma
  • F. Stephen Hodi, MD—Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers
  • S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD—Myeloma
  • Donald P. Pinkel, MD—Pediatric Oncology
  • Henry T. Lynch, MD—Prevention/Genetics
  • Jamie H. Von Roenn, MD—Supportive, Palliative, and/or Geriatric Care
  • Susan Band Horwitz, PhD—Translational Science
The winners are scheduled to be honored at a ceremony on May 30, 2019, at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois.

The award recipients were chosen from a field of more than 600 clinicians and investigators, a record number of nominees that represents a 16% increase over 2018. This year's roster included a record-high 64 international candidates from 25 countries.

Each member of the 2019 class has been deemed by his or her peers to be a person who challenges the conventional wisdom with innovative, even revolutionary, contributions to clinical research, translational care, and/or patient care.

A 7-member advisory board winnowed the nominees down to 75 finalists, all of whom would have been worthy recipients. An elite selection committee of hematologists and oncologists then voted to choose the winners.

"The nominees truly represent a remarkably talented and accomplished group of biomedical scientists and physicians with a deep-seated expertise and impact in the field of cancer care," said George D. Demetri, MD, a 2014 Giants of Cancer Care® award winner in the gastrointestinal cancer category, who chaired this year's advisory board. "All of us on the steering committee give our heartfelt congratulations and utmost respect to these talented and committed individuals who make up this year's class of Giants of Cancer Care®."

Demetri is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, co-director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard, and senior vice president for Experimental Therapeutics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.Demetri stressed the impact that the Giants of Cancer Care® have had on patients and their families. "The work of these honorees has touched the lives, and even saved the lives, of hundreds of thousands of cancer patients worldwide, changing practice for the better and improving our care of patients with many different forms of the disease we call cancer, he said. "It is a testament to the power of research and to the hard work of these individuals and to the commitment of the United States and other countries, as well as the institutions that have supported and enabled their work."

The peer review and peer voting processes, Demetri added, make this award particularly meaningful because the winners know their efforts have generated interest and respect from cancer professionals around the world.

OncLive began the Giants of Cancer Care® program in 2013 to honor clinicians and investigators who have contributed to advancements in the understanding of cancer and the treatment of patients. Recipients must possess selflessness, compassion for patients, and a desire to understand and develop life-changing anticancer treatments.

This year’s class brings the total number of honorees recognized through the program to 98.

"Now in its seventh year of issuing the Giants of Cancer Care® awards, the program has grown bigger and better than we ever expected," said Michael J. Hennessy, Jr., president of MJH Associates, Inc, parent company of OncLive®. "This year's winners represent a group of incredibly talented and accomplished scientists and physicians whose impact on cancer research and treatment is truly beyond measure. We are honored to call them Giants of Cancer Care."
 

BREAST CANCER

Eric P. Winer, MD

Eric P. Winer, MD

Director, Breast Oncology Center, Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Eric P. Winer, MD, has designed and conducted clinical trials that have changed clinical practice and paved the way toward more personalized treatment of patients with breast cancer.
  • Dr Winer was a leading investigator on the first clinical trial reporting findings from preoperative trastuzumab (Herceptin) plus paclitaxel in women with stage II/III HER2-positive breast cancer in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2003.
  • In October 2018, he coauthored a New England Journal of Medicine report on the IMpassion130 trial results supporting the approval of atezolizumab (Tecentriq) as the first immune agonist for patients with advanced triple-negative breast cancer. 
  •  His many honors include the Susan G. Komen Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in 2018, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture in 2017, and the William L. McGuire Memorial Lectureship at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
  • Dr Winer serves as chief of the Division of Women’s Cancers, chief clinical strategy officer, and the Thompson Chair in Breast Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 
  •  He also is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the cochair of the Alliance for Cooperative Trials in Oncology (formerly Cancer and Leukemia Group B).

CANCER DIAGNOSTICS

Charles M. Perou, PhD

Charles M. Perou, PhD

The May Goldman Shaw Distinguished Professor of Molecular Oncology, University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Charles M. Perou, PhD, conducts research across cancer biology, genomics, genetics, bioinformatics, statistics, systems biology, and  clinical practice.
  • Dr Perou is best known for his work on the genomic characterization of human tumors, which resulted in the discovery of the intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer. Initially published in Nature in 2000, this gene expression–based classification was the first to identify the basal-like/triple-negative breast cancer subtype.
  • Dr Perou is best known for his work on the genomic characterization of human tumors, which resulted in the discovery of the intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer. Initially published in Nature in 2000, this gene expression–based classification was the first to identify the basal-like/triple-negative breast cancer subtype.
  • Applying their molecular findings to a large human population, Dr Perou and his team found that premenopausal African American women have fewer luminal A breast cancers than white women and are twice as likely to develop basal-like disease. This discovery may help to explain racial disparities in outcomes. 
  • His honors include the American Association for Cancer Research Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research in 2009 and the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Research from Susan G. Komen in 2016.
  • Dr Perou also serves as professor of genetics in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, codirector of the UNC Computational Medicine Program, and faculty director of the Bioinformatics Group and codirector of the Breast Cancer Research Program within the Lineberger Center.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH, EDUCATION, AND CANCER POLICY

Richard Pazdur, MD

Richard Pazdur, MD

Director, FDA Oncology Center of Excellence
Richard Pazdur, MD, is founding director of the Oncology Center of Excellence, whose mission is to harness the combined skills of FDA experts to accelerate the development of novel cancer products.
  • Since his appointment in January 2017, the FDA approved the first tumor-agnostic agent (pembrolizumab; Keytruda), the first anticancer biosimilar (ABP 215; Mvasi), and the first chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (tisagenlecleucel; Kymriah). 
  • He previously served as director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products (OHOP) in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. 
  • As director of OHOP, Dr Pazdur coordinated oncology activities across all FDA centers and ensured collaboration between the FDA, the National Cancer Institute, and other cancer-related organizations inside and outside of government.
  • Dr Pazdur also was director of the FDA’s Division of Oncology Drug Products from September 1999 to May 2005.
  •  In 2017, Dr Pazdur was named to The Bloomberg 50 as one of the leaders who defined global business that year. Fortune magazine named him one of its World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2015.
  • That same year, the American Association for Cancer Research recognized him with its Distinguished Public Service Award. Also, the American Society of Clinical Oncology honored him with its Service Recognition Award in 2009 and its Public Service Award in 2013.

GASTROINTESTINAL CANCER

Alan P. Venook, MD

Alan P. Venook, MD

The Madden Family Distinguished Professor of Medical Oncology and Translational Research at the University of California,  San Francisco (UCSF) and the Shorenstein Associate Director for Program Development at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Alan P. Venook, MD, is a nationally recognized expert in colorectal and liver cancers who served as the founding chair of the National Cancer Institute’s Hepatobiliary Task Force.
  • Dr Venook served as principal investigator for the CALGB/SWOG 80405 trial. Results presented in 2014 and published in 2017 established that both cetuximab (Erbitux) and bevacizumab (Avastin) in combination with chemotherapy were appropriate for first-line treatment of patients with KRAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer. 
  • Findings from Dr Venook’s retrospective analyses of CALGB/SWOG 80405 demonstrated that overall survival was significantly longer in patients with left-sided tumors compared with those who had right-sided tumors, and that responses to therapy differed based on tumor-sidedness. 
  • He is well known for his research into new modalities for treating primary and metastatic tumors of the liver and has led multiple cooperative group trials into the use of chemotherapeutics in patients with liver disease.
  • Under his leadership, UCSF’s Gastrointestinal Oncology group won the inaugural Helen Diller Family Quality Award in recognition of  “exceptional commitment to providing superior patient care.”

GENITOURINARY CANCER

Bernard J. Escudier, MD

Bernard J. Escudier, MD

Chair of the Renal Cancer Unit, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France
Bernard J. Escudier, MD, has been instrumental in the development of many new therapies for patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC), including immunotherapies and targeted therapies.
  • A pioneer in immunotherapy research, Dr Escudier led clinical trials that resulted in FDA approvals for nivolumab (Opdivo) as monotherapy and in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy) for the treatment for patients with RCC.
  •  His work helped pave the way for the FDA’s approval of cabozantinib (Cabometyx) and the European Commission’s approval of tivozanib (Fotivda) in RCC, both small molecules that inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor.
  • For nearly 30 years, Dr Escudier has been a leader in the genitourinary research community. He was the first investigator named to head the inaugural immunotherapy unit at Gustave Roussy in 1992, and he headed the French Group of Immunotherapy from 1992 to 2012. He served as coordinator of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO)’s faculty group from 2012 to 2016 and of the ESMO RCC guideline group from 2012 to 2019. 
  •  Dr Escudier also is president of ARTuR, a French association that provides support to patients with renal cancer and their families and promotes research into renal tumors; coordinator of the ESMO Kidney Cancer Advisory Group; and a board member of the Kidney Cancer Association.
  •  He has published more than 450 peer-reviewed articles.

GYNECOLOGIC MALIGNANCIES

Beth Y. Karlan, MD

Beth Y. Karlan, MD

Vice Chair of Women’s Health Research and Director of Cancer Population Genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine,  University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Beth Y. Karlan, MD, has dedicated her career to improving cancer care for women by accelerating translation of scientific discoveries to the bedside, shaping current standards of care, and training the next generation of physician/scientists.
  • Her interest in robust tumor biorepositories for translational studies and early detection led to the discovery of the serum biomarker human epididymis protein 4 (HE4). HE4 testing is FDA approved to help assess women with a pelvic mass and to help monitor women with ovarian cancer for possible recurrence.
  • Dr Karlan and her team described improved survival and platinum sensitivity for BRCA-associated ovarian cancers.
  • She initiated and serves as a co-principal investigator for the BRCA Founder Outreach Study (BFOR), which is conducting population-based BRCA genetic testing on 4000 eligible adults of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.
  • President Barack Obama appointed Dr Karlan to the National Cancer Advisory Board in 2012. She is a past president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (2005-2006) and currently serves as editor-in-chief for Gynecologic Oncology and Gynecologic Oncology Reports.
  • Previously, Dr Karlan was director of the Women’s Cancer Program and the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, as well as founding director of the Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program.

LEUKEMIA

Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD

Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD

Executive Vice President and Deputy Director at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Fred Hutch)
Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD, is internationally known for his work in the development of transformative therapies for leukemias, lymphomas, and other blood cancers.
  • While at the National Cancer Institute, he led the research team that demonstrated the first successful use of autologous bone marrow transplantation in 1978. Today, more than 40,000 patients with hematologic malignancies receive autologous transplants annually.
  • After moving to Fred Hutch to work with the late Nobel laureate Dr E. Donnall Thomas, Dr Appelbaum led the first studies demonstrating the ability of allogeneic transplantation to cure myelodysplasia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Hodgkin disease, and the superiority of allogeneic transplantation over chemotherapy as treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
  • He was a key contributor to the discovery and development of gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg), an anti-CD33 drug conjugate used to treat AML, which was the first FDA-approved antibody–drug conjugate. 
  •  Dr Appelbaum formed the first multicenter bone marrow transplant clinical trials group in 1980, an approach that foreshadowed the development of the federally funded Bone Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network.
  • Dr Appelbaum is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Association of Cancer Research Academy, and received the E. Donnall Thomas Award from the American Society of Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation in 2013.

LUNG CANCER

David H. Johnson, MD

David H. Johnson, MD

Donald W. Seldin Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine, University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center
David H. Johnson, MD, is a leader in lung cancer research whose work spans clinical investigations in targeted therapies, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and oncogenic mutations.
  • Dr Johnson’s research helped pave the way for the development of multiple drugs for patients with small cell and non–small cell lung cancer including etoposide, paclitaxel (Abraxane), carboplatin, the angiogenesis inhibitor bevacizumab (Avastin), and the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib (Tarceva).
  • He served as president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) from 2004 to 2005. During that time,  he worked to advance ASCO’s Quality Oncology Practice Initiative and was instrumental in establishing its Cancer Survivorship Program.
  • Awarded the 2009 Scientific Award from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, Johnson was one of the recipients of the American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award given to the Dana-Farber/ Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) Thoracic Oncology Research Team in 2010.
  • He was also a member of the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee and chair of the Thoracic Cancer Committee of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group. He also is a past chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Board of Directors (2013-2015) and of the ABIM Medical Oncology Subspecialty Board (2001-2011).
  • ASCO honored Dr Johnson with its Distinguished Achievement Award in 2016 and the Statesman Award in 2008. He has written more than 400 peer-reviewed articles and 40 book chapters and edited 4 oncology textbooks.
  • Dr Johnson also chairs the Department of Internal Medicine  at UT Southwestern.

LYMPHOMA

Saul A. Rosenberg, MD

Saul A. Rosenberg, MD

Maureen Lyles D’Ambrogio Professor Emeritus, Stanford School of Medicine 
Saul A. Rosenberg, MD, is a pioneer in the use of curative chemoradiation to treat patients with Hodgkin lymphoma and helped launch the medical oncology field at Stanford.
  •  Along with the late Henry S. Kaplan, MD, Dr Rosenberg conducted some of the first randomized clinical trials in cancer. Their findings showed that treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma could be curative, rather than strictly palliative, and established total lymphoid irradiation as the standard of care in early-stage disease for decades.
  • His research determined that the addition of chemotherapy allowed physicians to reduce exposure to radiation while maintaining efficacy.
  • Starting in the 1960s, Dr Rosenberg helped to establish medical oncology as a discipline; Stanford was one of the first institutions in the nation with a division of medical oncology that included both oncologists and hematologists. He was chief of that division from 1965 to 1993.
  • Starting in the 1960s, Dr Rosenberg helped to establish medical oncology as a discipline; Stanford was one of the first institutions in the nation with a division of medical oncology that included both oncologists and hematologists. He was chief of that division from 1965 to 1993.
  • ASCO honored Dr Rosenberg in 1984 with the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture and named him an ASCO fellow in 2007. Other honors include the 2004 Karl Musshoff Prize from the German Hodgkin Study Group.

MELANOMA AND SKIN CANCERS

F. Stephen Hodi, MD

F. Stephen Hodi, MD

Director of the Center for Immuno-Oncology and the Melanoma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
F. Stephen Hodi, MD, is a trailblazer in the development of immunotherapy and melanoma therapeutics, particularly checkpoint inhibitors.
  • Dr Hodi led the first human trial of the CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitor ipilimumab (Yervoy). He later led the phase III registration trial, which produced the first results to show a survival advantage for adults with metastatic melanoma and led to FDA approval in 2011. The indication was later expanded to include pediatric patients.
  • In 2014, Dr Hodi helped lead a phase I study with favorable overall survival results and durable tumor regression in patients with advanced melanoma who received the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo). The FDA approved the drug for melanoma later that year.
  • The following year, the FDA approved the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab for patients with BRAF V600 wild-type unresectable or metastatic melanoma based on findings from Dr Hodi and colleagues.
  • He also has explored molecular biomarkers and targeted therapies for patients with melanoma, including studies into whether the KIT mutation may be a therapeutic target.
  • Dr Hodi is the Sharon Crowley Martin Chair in Melanoma at Dana-Farber and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He also is a member of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

MULTIPLE MYELOMA

S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD

S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD

Edward W. and Betty Knight Scripps Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, works to develop more effective treatments for patients with multiple myeloma (MM) and understand racial disparities  in outcomes.
  • Dr Rajkumar led the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group trial that resulted in the FDA approval of thalidomide (Thalomid) plus dexamethasone for the treatment of newly diagnosed MM in 2006. The immunomodulatory drug (IMiD) was the first new agent introduced for this patient population in decades and led to the development of more effective, less toxic agents.
  • He was a principal investigator for the randomized trial that established the regimen of lenalidomide (Revlimid), a second-generation IMiD, plus low-dose dexamethasone for patients with newly diagnosed MM in 2010. The regimen has significantly reduced treatment mortality in myeloma and makes up the backbone of most regimens for the malignancy. 
  • Dr Rajkumar has identified several biomarkers that are used worldwide in the diagnosis and risk stratification of plasma cell disorders. As a result, he led the International Myeloma Working Group in its 2014 revision of Diagnostic Criteria for Multiple Myeloma and Related Plasma Cell Disorders. 
  • In addition to leadership roles at Mayo Clinic, and in the International Myeloma Working Group, Dr Rajkumar chairs  the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Myeloma Committee, where he helps design and implement national phase III studies. His current research includes trials testing early intervention in myeloma and the clinical development of  new drugs.

PEDIATRIC ONCOLOGY

Donald P. Pinkel, MD

Donald P. Pinkel, MD

Founding Director and CEO, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (retired)
Donald P. Pinkel, MD, led the development of multimodal therapy for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), resulting in one of the first significant cure rates for cancer.
  • Dr Pinkel became the first director and CEO at St. Jude in 1961. At his insistence, the hospital accepted all patients regardless of race, ethnicity, or ability to pay, and the hospital staff was fully integrated.
  • There was no curative treatment for pediatric ALL when Dr Pinkel published 5-year data from the Total Therapy study in JAMA in 1971. Using chemoradiotherapy, his team eventually achieved a 50% cure rate. A modified version of the 4-phase treatment plan is still used today, with St. Jude reporting a cure rate of up to 94%.
  • Dr Pinkel noted that many of his patients were malnourished, which had a negative effect on survival rates. In response, he created the program that eventually became the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, better known as WIC.
  •  In 1972, Dr Pinkel shared the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research with other physician scientists, including several previous Giants of Cancer Care® award winners, in recognition of their work developing combination chemotherapy regimens for lymphoma and ALL. He received the Charles F. Kettering Prize in 1986 and the Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research in 2003.

PREVENTION AND GENETICS

Henry T. Lynch, MD

Henry T. Lynch, MD

Charles F. and Mary C. Heider Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, Creighton University School of Medicine
Henry T. Lynch, MD, the namesake for Lynch syndrome, is known as the “father of cancer genetics” and “the father of hereditary cancer detection and prevention” for his work identifying cancer syndromes and their patterns  of inheritance.
  • Dr Lynch began studying potential hereditary causes of nonpolyposis colon cancer in the 1960s, when medical orthodoxy said that cancer was not a hereditary disease.
  • He established the cardinal principles of cancer genetics: early age of disease onset, specific patterns of multiple primary cancers, and Mendelian patterns of inheritance in extended families.
  • His findings led to the identification of hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, better known as Lynch syndrome. Dr Lynch’s results showed that, with early detection, up to 90% of patients with Lynch syndrome and other colon cancers can be cured. 
  • Dr Lynch also discovered that some primary tumors of the breast and ovary follow a Mendelian pattern of inheritance. Now known as hereditary breast/ovarian cancer syndrome, that work contributed to the discovery of the risks associated with BRCA1/2 mutations.
  • He has received numerous awards during his career including a Medal of Honor for Clinical Research from the American Cancer Society in 1997 and the AACR-Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research in 2010.

SUPPORTIVE, PALLIATIVE, GERIATRIC CARE

Jamie H. Von Roenn, MD

Jamie H. Von Roenn, MD

Vice President of Education, Science, and Professional Development for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Jamie H. Von Roenn, MD, is a leader in identifying and developing ways to integrate palliative medicine skills and principles into the care of patients  with cancer. 
  • Dr Von Roenn is responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating ASCO’s formal US-based education programs. Her department is also tasked with providing training and professional development for oncologists at every stage of their careers.
  • Prior to joining ASCO, Dr Von Roenn served as director of the Palliative Medicine Fellowship Training Program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and as chair of the annual Chicago Supportive Oncology Conference. She spearheaded efforts throughout the school to incorporate palliative medicine into the medical school curriculum and internal medicine residency training.
  •  She was a coprincipal investigator for the Education in Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Oncology (EPEC-O)  project, a comprehensive palliative care curriculum for providers treating patients with cancer developed in conjunction with ASCO, the National Cancer Institute, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. 
  •  In 2011, Dr Von Roenn received the ASCO-American Cancer Society Award and Lecture in recognition of her pioneering work in palliative medicine and her contributions to oncology care and cancer pain management. She won a Statesman Award from ASCO in 2009.

TRANSLATIONAL SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES

Susan Band Horwitz, PhD

Susan Band Horwitz, PhD

Distinguished Professor, Rose C. Falkenstein Chair in Cancer Research, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Susan Band Horwitz, PhD, conducted groundbreaking research that established the mechanism of action of paclitaxel (Taxol) and other cytotoxic drugs of natural product origin.
  • Dr Horwitz and colleagues discovered that paclitaxel, derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, binds to microtubules, resulting in arrest of the cell cycle in metaphase. Her findings helped establish the use of paclitaxel and other microtubule-binding agents as a new class of chemotherapeutic agents.
  •  In 1992, 16 years after Dr Horwitz began exploring the properties of paclitaxel, the FDA approved the drug for patients with ovarian cancer. Indications subsequently were approved for breast cancer and non–small cell lung cancer.
  • Her laboratory showed that bleomycin, a natural product from the Streptomyces verticillus bacteria, interacts with DNA by binding first to ferrous iron; in the presence of oxygen, the bleomycin–ferrous iron complex degrades DNA. Today, bleomycin is used to treat squamous cell cancers, melanoma, sarcoma, testicular and ovarian cancers, and lymphomas.
  •  She also has researched the mechanism of action of other products from nature with anticancer properties, such as camptothecin and etoposide.
  •  For her work on paclitaxel, the American Association for Cancer Research honored Dr Horwitz with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, and the American Cancer Society awarded her its highest prize, the Medal of Honor, in 2008. She was elected to the National Academies of Science and of Medicine in 2005. 
  •  Dr Horwitz also holds the title of distinguished professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology at Einstein.



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