U.S., Korean Researchers Garner Basic and Clinical Research Awards; Susan G. Komen for the Cure® President Elizabeth Thompson Updates Research Progress
SAN ANTONIO – December 10, 2010 – An American scientist studying how breast cancer may alter the hormonal development of mammary glands and a South Korean physician improving ways to predict the effectiveness of certain breast cancer treatments were honored Thursday night as this year’s winners of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in basic science and clinical research.
This year’s awards underscore the global reach of Komen’s research programs, in concert with Komen advocacy programs spanning more than 40 countries. The Brinker Award is the highest award of merit given by the nation’s leading breast cancer advocacy organization.
This year’s recipient in the category of basic science is Jeffrey Rosen, Ph.D., a Distinguished Service Professor and the C.C. Bell Professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology and Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Rosen is also a member of Komen for the Cure’s Scientific Advisory Council.
Soonmyung Paik, M.D., the Distinguished Scientist in Medicine and the director of Samsung Cancer Research Institute, Seoul, South Korea, is recognized in the award category of clinical research.
Rosen is being honored for his pivotal laboratory work, spanning more than 35 years, that has focused on critical insights to the fundamental mechanisms of mammary gland development as well as his most recent work with human breast cancer stem cells.
Paik is being recognized for advancing the understanding of breast cancer biology and his instrumental role in the development of a commercially available genomic test for estimating risk of breast cancer recurrence and the benefit from chemotherapy. This has had a tremendous impact on the clinical management of ER-positive breast cancer today.
The Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction was established in 1992 to recognize the efforts of pioneers in two critically important areas of the fight to end breast cancer: clinical research and basic science. The roster of Komen Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction laureates has grown to include a Nobel Prize winner and others who have made the most significant advances in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and research. This year’s awardees were honored at a private reception Thursday night during the San Antonio conference.
“The basic science award honors the vitally important contributions Dr. Rosen has made to our understanding of the genes that regulate breast development and how hormones affect those genes,” said Eric Winer, M.D., Komen’s chief scientific advisor. “Dr. Paik is recognized with the clinical award for his innovative translational research that led to the development of a genomic classifier and his pivotal work to more accurately identify which HER-2 positive breast cancer patients might or might not benefit from Herceptin.”
Each honoree delivered a keynote lecture and was honored at the 33rd annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, a major international gathering of breast cancer researchers, clinicians and patient advocacy organizations. The honorees also will receive a cash award of $25,000 each.
Komen currently funds 632 research grants in 13 countries, in addition to advocacy and education programs being conducted globally. All told, Komen has invested more than $500 million in breast cancer research since inception.
Since 2008, Komen’s research program has focused on projects with the best chance of delivering cures, risk-reduction strategies or treatment protocols within 10 years. Central to the research program are Komen Promise Grants for large-scale, multi-million dollar, cross-disciplinary research projects tackling major issues in breast cancer.
Elizabeth Thompson, president of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, told invited guests Thursday night that substantive progress is being made with each of Komen’s 14 Promise Grants.
“Our Promise Grants program has been active less than three years and already, seven clinical trials have resulted from unique collaborations that span universities, countries and specialties,” Thompson said. “We expect a total of at least 16 clinical trials to emerge from the Komen Promise Grants program alone in the next 5 years delivering on our promise to fund meaningful science that will save and extend lives for women and men with breast cancer.”
About the Brinker Award Winners
Jeffrey M. Rosen, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Rosen studied chemistry at Williams College where he received a BA degree in 1966. His Ph.D. research at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute helped elucidate the mechanisms for glucocorticoid resistance in lymphomas. His postdoctoral studies at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Bert W. O’Malley were concerned with the mechanism of action of estrogen on growth and differentiation in the chick oviduct. These involved the isolation of ovalbumin mRNA and the first demonstration of steroid hormone induction of a specific mRNA. He joined the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in 1973, and was a founder member of the first Department of Cell Biology in the USA. In 1987-88 he spent a sabbatical leave in the laboratories of Drs. George Stark and Ian Kerr at the Imperial Cancer Research Laboratories funded by an American Cancer Society Scholar Grant, where he participated in early studies to elucidate the mechanisms of interferon action that helped lead to the discovery of the Jak/Stat pathway. Dr. Rosen is currently a Distinguished Service Professor and the C.C. Bell Professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology and Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He is the recipient of a prestigious MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health entitled, “Hormonal Regulation of Breast Cancer” currently in its thirty-fourth year of consecutive funding. His laboratory has authored 200 publications and book chapters dealing with hormonal regulation of gene expression, signal transduction, normal mammary gland development, breast cancer, transgenic animal models of breast and prostate cancer, mammary gland stem and progenitor cells, and noncoding RNAs. Dr. Rosen has been the recipient of the Endocrine Society Edwin B. Astwood Award and the Michael E. DeBakey, Excellence in Research Award.
Soonmyung Paik, M.D.
Soonmyung Paik, M.D. is a pathologist with training in molecular biology of breast cancer. He graduated from College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea in 1981 and, after his residency under Dr. Edwin Fisher at the pathology headquarters of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), he joined Dr. Marc Lippman’s group at the National Cancer Institute as a post-doctoral fellow. Later he followed Dr. Lippman to the Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University where he worked as a faculty member and director of tumor back core facility. He returned to the NSABP as the Director of the Division of Pathology in 1996. Since 2009 he has a joint appointment as the Distinguished Scientist in Medicine and the director of Samsung Cancer Research Institute, Seoul, South Korea.
Dr. Paik is interested in developing predictive markers for treatment response in breast cancer through correlative science studies of tumor blocks procured from clinical trials. His research has been tightly linked to NSABP clinical trials. He has contributed to concept development and drafting of all trials conducted by the NSABP since 1996 and improved the tumor block collection rate from 40 percent to 80-90 percent since joining the NSABP. His division at the NSABP now maintains one of the largest annotated breast cancer tissue banks worldwide.
He has contributed in elucidating the clinical role of HER2 in breast cancer since his post-doctoral fellowship by demonstrating that patients with increased expression of HER2 protein confers poor prognosis. He has also demonstrated that HER2 positive tumors are more responsive to doxorubicin containing regimens and thus helped to establish ACT as a baseline regimen for NSABP trials for HER2 positive breast cancer (Paik et al, JNCI 90:1361-70 and JNCI 92:1991-8, Romond et al, NEJM 353:1673-84). His lab in collaboration with Genomic Health, Inc. has developed a multi-gene based test called OncotypeDx that is now used to predict prognosis and response to chemotherapy in node negative hormone receptor positive breast cancer (Paik et al, NEJM 351:2817-26, JCO 24:3726-34).