Einstein's Dr. Vern Schramm elected to the National Academy of Sciences

May 1, 2007 (BRONX, NY) -- Vern L. Schramm, Ph.D., Professor and Ruth Merns Chair of Biochemistry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the nations most prestigious honorary society for scientists. His election was announced today at the Academys annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Schramm has been a member of the Einstein faculty since 1987. Throughout his career, he has carried out groundbreaking research into the mechanisms involved in enzymatic reactions. This work has led to promising drugs now being tested in clinical trials for treating autoimmune diseases and several types of cancer.

Dr. Schramm studies the transition-state structure of enzyme-catalyzed reactions the shapes that reacting molecules assume when enzymes catalyze chemical reactions. As he describes it, Enzymes govern virtually all of the chemical transformations necessary for biological life but can also influence cells to become cancerous. By knowing the transition-state structure of enzyme-catalyzed reactions, we can design powerful inhibitors that can block those enzymes from acting and thereby treat or prevent cancer and other diseases.

One such inhibitor that Dr. Schramm has designed, known as Immucillin-H, is a promising anticancer agent for treating T-cell malignancies. It is currently in a pivotal phase IIb clinical trial (specifically targeted to study efficacy) at sites in the U.S., eastern and western Europe, and South America.

Another transition-state inhibitor developed by Dr. Schramm is now being studied as a possible treatment for autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disorders and for preventing the rejection of transplanted organs.

The election to the Academy is the latest among numerous honors recognizing Dr. Schramms many contributions in more than 35 years as a biochemistr

Contact: Karen Gardner
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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