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Brian J. Druker, M.D., Will Receive Pitt’s Dickson Prize at Science 2012— Translation

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 8, 2012 – An internationally known cancer researcher who developed a drug for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) has been named this year’s recipient of the University of Pittsburgh’s Dickson Prize in Medicine.
Brian J. Druker, M.D., will accept the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s most prestigious honor during Science 2012—Translation, a showcase of the region’s latest research in science, engineering, medicine, and computation that will be held on Oct. 3 through 5 at Alumni Hall, Oakland. Dr. Druker is director and JELD-WEN chair of leukemia research at the Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
“Dr. Druker’s work revolutionized the development of cancer treatment by showing that an understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of this disease can lead to targeted drug development. This is a powerful example of taking science from the laboratory to the bedside. We are pleased to honor Dr. Druker with the Dickson Prize for his tremendous contribution to medicine,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean, School of Medicine.
On Thursday, Oct. 4, at 11 a.m., Dr. Druker will deliver the Dickson Prize in Medicine Lecture. His talk is titled “Imatinib as a Paradigm of Molecularly Targeted Cancer Therapies.”  Dr. Druker led the development of imatinib, also known as Gleevec, which is approved for use with CML, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and five other cancers. His current research projects are aimed at learning why a small percentage of CML patients develop resistance to Gleevec and why most patients on the drug have minute levels of cancer that linger, even after successful treatment. His laboratory is also working to identify the molecular defects that drive the growth of other leukemias and to use this information to develop new, targeted treatments to improve the outcomes for patients with these leukemias.
Other renowned researchers also will deliver plenary lectures at Science 2012:
Provost Lecture, 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4
  • “Sustainable Energy Innovators: Moving Toward a Low-Carbon Future” presented by Miranda A. Schreurs, Ph.D., director of the Environmental Policy Research Centre and professor of comparative politics at the Freie Universität Berlin. Dr. Schreurs specializes in science and politics, and her work focuses on comparative environmental politics and policy in the U.S., Europe, and East Asia. 
Mellon Lecture, 11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 5
  • “Riboswitches: Biology’s Ancient Regulators” presented by Ronald R. Breaker, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Breaker pioneered a variety of “test-tube evolution” strategies to isolate novel RNA enzymes and was the first to discover catalytic DNAs or “deoxyribozymes” using this technology. He co-founded Archemix, a biotechnology company that developed engineered RNA sensors and aptamers for therapeutic applications, and cofounded BioRelix, a biotechnology company developing antibiotics that target bacterial riboswitches.
Klaus Hofmann Lecture, 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 5
  • “Optogenetics: Development and Application” presented by Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of bioengineering and psychiatry at Stanford University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute early career scientist. Dr. Deisseroth pioneered the development and application of optogenetics, a technology that uses light to control millisecond-precision activity patterns in genetically defined cell types within the brains of freely moving mammals.

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