PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research congratulates its member Napoleone Ferrara, M.D., on receiving the 2010 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Ferrara, a member of the AACR since 2000, received this prestigious award for the discovery of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as a major mediator of angiogenesis and the development of an effective anti-VEGF therapy for wet macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly.
“Dr. Ferrara’s discovery of VEGF has wide-ranging applications,” said AACR Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.). “It led to a novel treatment for macular degeneration as well as the development of bevacizumab, which provides new treatment options for cancer patients. Dr. Ferrara’s work illustrates the vast utilizations of scientific research, and we applaud his selection for the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.”
Ferrara and colleagues at Genentech, Inc., reported the isolation and cloning of VEGF. Ferrara leveraged that knowledge to develop anti-VEGF antibody fragment, Lucentis® (ranibizumab injection) as a potential therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration. In 2006, Lucentis was approved for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
He was also instrumental in the development of bevacizumab (Avastin), the first antibody directed at VEGF, which suppresses angiogenesis and tumor growth. In 2004, the FDA approved bevacizumab for the treatment of advanced lung, colon and breast cancers in combination with chemotherapy. For his work on the mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis, Ferrara was awarded the 2009 Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research and in 2005 he received the 24th AACR Bruce F. Cain Memorial Award.
Ferrara received his medical degree from the University of Catania Medical School, Catania, Italy, in 1981. He completed a research fellowship at the Endocrinology Center and another at the Cancer Center of the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to the above-mentioned, he has received many other awards including the Macula Society Arnall Patz Award; the ASCO Science of Oncology Award; the General Motors Cancer Research Award; the Passano Award; the Lefoulon-Delalande-Institut-de-France Prize; and the American-Italian Cancer Foundation Prize. In 2006, Ferrara was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Ferrara holds more than 40 patents for his seminal contributions to cancer and other biomedical research.
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 32,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists, providing a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.