March 2, 2004
La Jolla, CA – Tony Hunter, professor of molecular and cell biology at the Salk Institute, has received two major awards for cancer research.
The American Cancer Society presented Hunter with its most prestigious award, the Medal of Honor, on Feb. 28 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The society’s Medal of Honor recognizes outstanding contributions in the areas of clinical research, basic research and cancer control.
Hunter has also received the Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research. The $200,000 award by the American Association for Cancer Research recognizes Hunter’s accomplishments in discovering how cells turn cancerous and how that process can be thwarted. The award will be presented at the AACR’s annual meeting on March 29, 2004, in Orlando, Fla.
Hunter is known specifically for discovering how phosphate molecules can stimulate cell growth when they are attached to proteins by enzymes called tyrosine kinases. Hunter’s pioneering work has led to the development of several anti-cancer drugs that block the activity of specific tyrosine kinases. Many of these drugs are now undergoing clinical trials, and one – a drug called Gleevec – has been approved to treat a specific type of leukemia.
“I’m honored to have received these prestigious awards,” said Hunter. “I hope that this recognition underscores the vital importance of basic research in developing new treatments for cancer, and that it heralds an era of cancer treatments that can specifically halt cancer cells with a minimum of adverse effects.”
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, located in La Jolla, Calif., is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and conditions, and the training of future generations of researchers. Jonas Salk, M.D., founded the institute in 1960 with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.