Researcher and American Cancer Society professor Tony Hunter has been named the inaugural holder of the Frederick W. and Joanna J. Mitchell Chair, created in memory of their daughter Marian Mitchell through a $2 million gift by the estate of Frederick W. Mitchell.
The endowed chair was established in February under the Joan Klein Jacobs and Irwin Mark Jacobs Senior Scientist Endowed Chair Challenge, which augments the Mitchell estate's gift with an additional $1 million.
As the director of the Institute's NCI-designated Cancer Center, Hunter studies how cells regulate their growth and division, and how mutations in genes that regulate growth lead to cancer. His lab has made significant research contributions in the area of signal transduction – how signals that stimulate or rein in cell growth are routed.
Signal transduction is involved in almost every aspect of normal cell development, and minor defects cause a cell to start growing uncontrollably and turn cancerous. Such mutations are the underlying cause of most pediatric cancers. His lab continues to study signal transduction and its roles in normal and abnormal cell development.
Hunter is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Royal Society of London. He holds the 2006 Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Award for Cancer Research; the 2005 Wolf Prize in Medicine, Israel's top recognition for achievements in the interest of humanity; the 2004 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, a leading national award for scientific achievement; and Japan's 2001 Keio Medical Science Prize.
"We are deeply grateful to the Mitchell estate for this most generous gift that enables us to honor and recognize one of our most distinguished senior scientists," said Salk Executive Vice President Marsha A. Chandler. "The contribution, along with the Jacobs' matching gift, allows us to provide Dr. Hunter and subsequent holders of this chair with financial support that will encourage continued breakthroughs in childhood disease research at the Salk Institute."
Launched in 2008 with a $10 million matching fund, the Jacobs Chair Challenge encourages and enables donors to create prestigious, permanent chairs in support of senior faculty members at Salk.
The $2 million endowed chair is part of a more than $3.2 million bequest to the Salk Institute from the Frederick W. Mitchell estate.