Brian Druker, MD, and Charles Sawyers, MD, Receive 2013 Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science


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Brian Druker, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and Charles Sawyers, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, will share the 2013 Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science.  The $100,000 prize is given by the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, based at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Brian Druker’s work led to the development of imatinib (Gleevec) in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and served as the proof of principle for targeted cancer therapies. Dr. Charles Sawyers studies on resistance to imatinib led to the development of second-generation drugs.

Role Models for Translational Medicine

“Brian Druker and Charles Sawyers are quintessential role models for modern transitional medicine,” said David Ginsburg, MD, a Taubman Scholar and Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and leader of the nationwide panel of translational research experts that selected the 2013 Taubman Prize recipients.

“Their success in developing specific, targeted therapies for chronic myeloid leukemia, including second- generation drugs for resistant disease, has inspired the pharmaceutical industry and an entire generation of future physician-scientists,” Dr. Ginsburg said.

The Taubman Prize is presented annually by the Taubman Institute and is open to clinician-scientists around the world.  The prize is intended to recognize work in the field of translational medical science by the clinician-scientists who have done the most to transform laboratory discoveries into clinical applications for patients.

CML Now a Treatable Disease

Dr. Druker and his team performed laboratory research that led to the development of imatinib. He then led the clinical trials with participation from Dr. Sawyers and Dr. Moshe Talpaz, who now serves on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School and is Associate Director for Translational Research at the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Sawyers, recognizing that some patients become resistant to imatinib, performed critical laboratory studies that led to a molecular understanding of the mechanism of this resistance. The understanding laid the groundwork for the development of drugs to combat resistance to imatinib. Together with Dr. Druker’s work, this has converted CML from a fatal cancer into one that is highly treatable.

“I am thrilled to be honored with Dr. Druker for our work leading to new therapies for chronic myeloid leukemia,” said Dr. Sawyers.  “Of course the greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that thousands of patients, including many of my own, have benefited from our work.

Drs. Druker and Sawyers will present the keynote addresses at the Institute’s 2013 Annual Symposium on October 11 in Ann Arbor, where they will be awarded the Taubman Prize trophy.  The prize was first awarded in 2012, to Harry Dietz, MD, of the Johns Hopkins University.  For more information, visit www.taubmaninstitute.org. ■



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