Rakesh Jain, PhD, the A. Werk Cook Professor of Radiation Oncology (Tumor Biology) at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Mary-Claire King, PhD, Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine (Medical Genetics) at the University of Washington, have been selected as recipients of the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama.
“Science and technology are fundamental to solving some of our nation’s biggest challenges,” President Obama said. “The knowledge produced by these Americans today will carry our country’s legacy of innovation forward and continue to help countless others around the world. Their work is a testament to American ingenuity.”
The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. The President receives nominations from a committee of Presidential appointees based on their extraordinary knowledge in and contributions to chemistry; engineering; computing; mathematics; and the biologic, behavioral/social, and physical sciences.
Rakesh Jain, PhD
Dr. Jain is a chemical engineer who has applied his training to the service of cancer research. His laboratory at Massachusetts General focuses on normalizing tumor vessels and their microenvironment.
Using mathematical models, animal models and advanced imaging techniques, Dr. Jain has mapped blood vessel growth in tumors, pointing colleagues to new therapies for cancer. In 2001, Dr. Jain advanced a hypothesis on the normalization of blood vessels in tumors, suggesting that re-engineering—rather than repressing—blood vessel growth deterred tumor metastasis. This insight has been confirmed in mouse models and is being tested in human clinical trials.
Dr. Jain’s work also led to the discovery of an alternative use of bevacizumab (Avastin) as an inhibitor for blood vessel growth necessary for tumor growth.
Dr. Jain was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Engineering. He is a past recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Society of American Asian Scientists in Cancer Research and the Alpha Chi Sigma Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Dr. Jain received his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware.
Mary-Claire King, PhD
Dr. King is a world leader in cancer genetics and in the application of genetics to resolution of human rights abuses.
She was the first to demonstrate that a genetic predisposition for breast cancer exists, as the result of inherited mutations in the gene she named BRCA1. She built upon that body of work to discover the BRCA2 breast cancer gene. More recently she has devised with a scheme to screen for all genes that predispose to breast and ovarian cancers.
Dr. King was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was also named as honorary chair for the state of Washington at the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. She is a past recipient of the Heineken Prize, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, the Weizmann Award, the Pearl Mesiter Greengard Prize, and the Lasker Award.
Dr. King received her doctorate in genetics from the University of California at Berkeley. ■