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Two ACS-funded researchers win Nobel Prize!

This brings to 49 the number of ACS-funded researchers who have won the Nobel Prize!

Two American Cancer Society-funded researchers - William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, of Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Gregg L. Semenza, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University - are two of three scientists receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology this year. They are the 48th and 49th Society-funded researchers to earn this prestigious award.

Drs. Semenza, Kaelin, and Peter J. Ratcliffe, MD, (not an ACS grantee)identified the molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen. They established the basis for our understanding of how oxygen levels affect cellular metabolism and physiological function. Their work has already had a significant impact on our understanding of how cancer cells thrive and helped establish new treatment strategies. Their discoveries have also paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anemia, cancer, and many other diseases.

Dr. Semenza received his first ACS grant in 2012 to study the role of hypoxia in breast cancer metastasis. He is currently an ACS Research Professor, the most prestigious research grant made by the national program. The title of American Cancer Society Professor can be used throughout the remainder of the scientist's career.

Dr. Kaelin, who also works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, MD, received a one-year American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Fellowship in 1987, while at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

"This is an incredible accomplishment for our organization and its mission to attack cancer from every angle," said Gary Reedy, our CEO, this morning. "I hope you are as proud as I am of this latest accolade for our groundbreaking research program, which does so much to help save lives from this disease. No other non-profit organization has even come close to funding as many Nobel laureates as your American Cancer Society has – a distinction that should only drive us to push that total even higher."

J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, MACP, our interim chief medical officer, had this to say: "The American Cancer Society is honored to have identified and supported so many gifted investigators early in their careers. The investigators we fund study everything from nutrition to genetics to environmental and even behavioral factors to identify cancer causes and treatments. These discoveries lead to understanding, grow hope, and support our efforts to attack this disease from all angles. The success of our research program is surely exemplified by the fact that our organization has now supported 49 Nobel laureates."

Here is a New York Times story on the awardees.

More on the Nobel Prize winners

William G. Kaelin, Jr. was born in 1957 in New York. He obtained an MD from Duke University, Durham. He did his specialist training in internal medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. He established his own research lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and became a full professor at Harvard Medical School in 2002. He is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1998.

Gregg L. Semenza was born in 1956 in New York. He obtained his B.A. in Biology from Harvard University, Boston. He received an MD/PhD degree from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia in 1984 and trained as a specialist in pediatrics at Duke University, Durham. He did postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, where he also established an independent research group. He became a full professor at the Johns Hopkins University in 1999, and since 2003 has been the director of the Vascular Research Program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering.

Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe is director of clinical research at the Francis Crick Institute in London, the director of the Target Discovery Institute in Oxford, and a member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

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