National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
June 2, 2009 • Volume 6 / Number 11

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NCI's Pastan Awarded Feltrinelli Prize for Medicine

Dr. Ira Pastan Dr. Ira Pastan

Dr. Ira Pastan, chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, will receive the 2009 International Antonio Feltrinelli Prize for Medicine, which will be awarded in Rome this June by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. The organization, founded in 1603, is considered Italy’s most prestigious scientific society and includes Galileo as an early member. This is the first time an NIH scientist has received the award. Presented every 5 years, the International Antonio Feltrinelli Prize for Medicine includes a gold medal and a monetary prize of 250,000 Euros.

Dr. Pastan’s early research focused on understanding the mechanism of action of polypeptide hormones and defining their pathway of entry into the cell. He was among the first to clone and sequence the EGF receptor and demonstrated that it is amplified in many cancers. Realizing that powerful toxins could be targeted to kill specific cells, Dr. Pastan and Dr. David FitzGerald designed and produced novel recombinant immunotoxins that have a cancer-seeking antibody genetically fused to a portion of Pseudomonas exotoxin A. His clinical research group, led by Dr. Robert Kreitman, tested these new treatments in humans and found that BL22 produced a very high rate of complete remissions in patients with drug-resistant hairy cell leukemia.

Freedman Named a DCCPS Branch Chief

Dr. Andrew Freedman Dr. Andrew Freedman

Last week, Dr. Andrew N. Freedman was appointed chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Branch (CTEB) in the Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS). 

CTEB supports, directs, and stimulates research on clinical, environmental, and genomic factors that influence cancer progression, recurrence, new primary cancers, and mortality. It also supports and coordinates research on factors that contribute to the development of cancer among individuals with underlying diseases and conditions.

Dr. Freedman earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. He was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Genetic Epidemiology Branch of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics before he joined DCCPS in 1997 as a molecular epidemiologist in the Applied Research Program’s Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch. Dr. Freedman’s research focus includes pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacogenomics, and he is internationally known for his work in molecular cancer epidemiology and cancer risk prediction.