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Gregory Hannon Wins 2007 Paul Marks Prize for Contributions to Understanding and Treating Cancer

Gregory J. Hannon, Ph.D., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator, along with two other young investigators will be the recipients of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s (MSKCC) 2007 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research.

The prize, named after Paul A. Marks, Ph.D., President Emeritus of MSKCC, recognizes significant contributions to the basic understanding and treatment of cancer by scientists no more than 45 years old at the time they are nominated. The winners were selected by a committee chaired by Jeffrey M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at The Rockefeller University. Each receives a medal and share a cash award of $150,000.

“It is important to show appreciation for the work of younger scientists while they are still in the early stages of their careers,” said Dr. Friedman. “The Paul Marks Prize pays tribute to the man for whom it was named by honoring some of the most promising researchers of the next generation.”

Dr. Hannon is a leader in the relatively new field of RNA interference (RNAi), a naturally occurring mechanism for regulating the expression of genes (controlling which genes are turned on and turned off in cells). In the laboratory, it is used as a tool to study the function of specific genes, and it’s being investigated as a therapeutic approach for treating many different diseases, including cancer.

“Greg Hannon’s discoveries have had a broad impact on research related to the field of small RNA biology,” said Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., CSHL President. “As a leader in the RNAi field, Greg’s work has resulted in the identification of a process that can manipulate gene expression, leading to a greater understanding of gene function, and identifying potential therapeutic drug targets.”

Dr. Hannon earned his Ph.D. degree in molecular biology from Case Western Reserve University.

The Paul Marks Prize was established in 2001 and is awarded biennially. This year’s winners – Hannon, Angelika Amon, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and Todd R. Golub, M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and the HHMI – will speak about their work at a public symposium held at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on December 6, 2007.

“Each investigator we are honoring is already a leader in his or her respective field,” said Harold Varmus, M.D., MSKCC President. “These scientists have made major contributions to the biological understanding of cancer, shedding light on what causes cancer and offering promising solutions that may someday provide benefits to patients everywhere.”

In addition to Dr. Friedman, other members of the selection committee were Joan S. Brugge, PhD, of the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School; Titia de Lange, PhD, of The Rockefeller University; Stephen J. Elledge, PhD, of the Department of Biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine; Stephen P. Goff, PhD, of the Department of Microbiology at Columbia University; Alan Hall, PhD, of the Cell Biology Program in the Sloan-Kettering Institute; Scott W. Lowe, PhD, of the Cold Spring Harbor Cancer Center; and William G. Kaelin Jr., MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world’s oldest and largest private institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research, and education in cancer. For more information, visit www.mskcc.org.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit research and education institution dedicated to exploring molecular biology and genetics in order to advance the understanding and ability to diagnose and treat cancers, neurological diseases, and other causes of human suffering.  For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.

 
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