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Scott Lowe Wins Paul Marks Prize for Important Contributions to the Understanding of Cancer

Scott W. Lowe, deputy director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and two other young investigators will be the recipients of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s (MSKCC) 2005 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research and will share a $150,000 award for their major accomplishments in cancer research.

The prize, named after Paul A. Marks, 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. A committee chaired by Jeffrey M. Friedman, a professor at The Rockefeller University and an HHMI investigator, selected the winners.


“While still in relatively early stages of their careers, the three winners already are leaders in their respective fields of research,” said Dr. Friedman. “Each has made significant contributions to our understanding of the genes, signaling pathways, and processes that regulate cell proliferation and lead to the formation of tumors, their spread, and their response to treatment. The selection committee is confident that these three young scientists will continue to play key roles in cancer research in the future.”

Dr. Lowe is exploring the molecular and genetic machinery of apoptosis (programmed cell death) and cellular senescence (in which cells irreversibly stop proliferating but remain alive). These normal cellular processes are disrupted in cancer cells, which accounts for how tumors are able to grow and spread. Much of his work has focused on the tumor suppressor gene p53, which is mutated in about half of all cancers. His work has shown how changes in p53 can lead to the development of tumors and how the disruption of p53 can affect a tumor’s response to therapy, leading to drug resistance.

Dr. Lowe’s work also has centered on the development of advanced, groundbreaking mouse models. “These models have allowed us to understand the evolution of cancer – how it progresses and responds to therapy,” said Dr. Lowe. One particular area of his research has been using these models to make sense of apoptosis and senescence so that these processes can be restored to cancer cells, thus allowing traditional chemotherapy drugs to destroy them.

Another focus with his mouse model research is to gain insight into the genetic factors that influence the effectiveness of targeted therapies. “Our long-term goal is to use these models to determine how to make chemotherapy agents that are more effective and also to develop new combination therapies,” Dr. Lowe said.

“ Scott Lowe is one of the most innovative and energetic young investigators in the field of cancer research, particularly focusing on development of new therapeutic approaches,” said Bruce Stillman, president of CSHL. “I believe he has made major contributions in his career and will continue to do so in the future.”

The Paul Marks Prizes have been awarded every other year since they were established in 2001. This year's winners – Lowe, Tyler E. Jacks, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and Jeff Wrana, of the University of Toronto and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute (SLRI) – will be honored at a luncheon on December 1 and will speak about their work at a public symposium held after the luncheon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“ The recipients of this year’s Paul Marks Prize all have made fundamental discoveries that open up broad new avenues for cancer research,” said MSKCC President Harold Varmus. “At the same time, despite all of their accomplishments, I believe they are only at the beginning of what they will ultimately contribute toward our greater understanding of many of the genes, proteins, and signaling pathways that contribute to the formation of cancer.”

In addition to Dr. Friedman, other members of the selection committee were Richard Axel, MD, of Columbia University and the HHMI; Steven J. Burakoff, MD, of the New York University Cancer Institute and the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine; Stephen J. Elledge, PhD, of the Department of Biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine and the HHMI; William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the HHMI; Titia de Lange, PhD, of The Rockefeller University; Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD, of the New York University Medical Center, the Skirball Institute, and the HHMI; Joan Massagué, PhD, of MSKCC and the HHMI; and Stanley R. Riddell, MD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Varmus is an ex officio member of the committee.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world's oldest and largest private institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research, and education in cancer. Its scientists and clinicians generate innovative approaches to better understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. Memorial Sloan-Kettering specialists are leaders in biomedical research and in translating the latest research to advance the standard of cancer care worldwide.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit basic research institution. Under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Stillman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London), more than 330 scientists at the Laboratory conduct groundbreaking research in cancer, neurobiology, plant genetics, and bioinformatics. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is one of eight National Cancer Institute-designated basic research centers in the U.S. and the only such center in the tri-state area.

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