2004 - Stanley Korsmeyer

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

The Pezcoller Foundation and the AACR honor Stanley J. Korsmeyer for his pioneering observations that opened the molecular era of programmed cell death. His landmark experiments on the cells of patients with lymphoma established that BCL-2 plays a primary role in oncogenesis by clocking cell death. As a result, BCL-2 became the archetype of a new category of oncogenes: regulators of cell death. In the last two years, he has further advanced our understanding by identifying distinct roles for BCL-2 members. His rigorous analysis established a mammalian apoptotic pathway and placed multiple landmarks along its course. Dr. Korsmeyer’s outstanding contributions in defining the role of genetic mechanisms that govern programmed cell death and survival have encouraged clinical studies that have already had a significant impact on the development of tailor-made treatments of lymphomas and other cancers. It is truly rare for the research of a single investigator to have such wide impact and in particular such far-reaching applications that have affected so many disciplines in biology and medicine. Dr. Korsmeyer’s insights have altered our fundamental concepts of organ development, cellular homeostasis, and the genesis and the treatment of cancer.
Dr. Korsmeyer received his B.S. degree in biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and his M.D. degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He conducted his internship and residency in medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. His postdoctoral research was done with Drs. Thomas Waldmann and Philip Leder at the National Cancer Institute, where he became a senior investigator. Prior to his move to Harvard and the Dana-Farber Institute, Dr. Korsmeyer was an HHMI investigator and Chief of the Division of Molecular Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine and was recently elected to the American Philosophical Society. His honors include the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for distinguished achievement in cancer research, the Charles S. Mott Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, and AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award. He has over 300 publications and eleven patents, and has served on numerous committees, advisory boards, and editorial boards.
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