Keynote Speaker: Honorable Billy Tauzin, former president of PhARMA
President of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
The Szent-Györgyi Prize Selection Committee recognizes Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., for his groundbreaking discoveries in cancer biology and for his association of aging with genetic disorders.
Dr. DePinho’s research on the life history of cancer cells includes the recognition of the mechanism of tumor suppression by the p53 gene through apoptosis activation in abnormal cell cycling. He has also shown that that INK4a/ARF is a true tumor suppressor and the genetic and biochemical linkage of ARF to the p53 pathway.
His use of inducible cancer models was notably demonstrated in Dr. DePinho’s studies of host-tumor interactions where he established the concept of “tumor maintenance” – which laid the foundation for use of the inducible model in the field and by industry for preclinical drug development. His extensive series of experiments on telomere biology reveals how telomere dysfunction may drive or suppress cancer’s development depending on the life cycle status of the tumor suppressor gene p53.
In addition to these advancements, Dr. DePinho continues to illuminate many life scientists on the link between aging and cancer – a lasting mystery for the cancer field. He has convincingly established that telomere dysfunction, combined with an impaired DNA damage response, and the removal of epithelium by aging or disease processes, converge to form the common carcinomas. Several of these discoveries have paved the way for the development of agents and therapeutics in clinical trials – including an anti-cancer telomerase inhibitor.
Dr. DePinho received his M.D. with distinction from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.