Cancer researcher Susan Horwitz wins Alpert prize for Taxol work

BOSTON-Susan Band Horwitz, Ph.D., the Falkenstein Professor of Cancer Research and Co-Chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, will today be awarded the 17th annual Warren Alpert Foundation Prize. The foundation recognizes Dr. Horwitz, a molecular pharmacologist, for her seminal contributions to the understanding of how the antitumor agent Taxol inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Her research helped pave the way for studies leading to approval of the plant compound for the treatment of ovarian, breast and lung cancers. The foundation will award Dr. Horwitz a $150,000 prize.

"One thing that Mr. Alpert stipulated when he developed this prize was that it should go to someone who had already made major contributions to helping patients. The impact of Susan's work has been quite extraordinary in the cancer field," said Professor Dominick Purpura, MD, Dean of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who nominated Dr. Horwitz for the prize. In fact, earlier this year, shortly after Dr. Horwitz was selected as winner of the prize, she was acknowledged by her peers for her contributions to cancer research when she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

In the US, Taxol was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of refractory ovarian cancer in 1992. Approval for metastatic breast cancer followed in 1994, and more recently for non-small cell lung cancer in 1999. "Taxol has become one of the most valuable cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents we have in clinical oncology. It has proven effective in ovarian, breast, lung, and head and neck cancer and it has contributed immensely to the quality of life of cancer patients," said Larry Shulman, associate professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. The drug has been used in well over a million patients worldwide.

In 1977, Dr. Horwitz was approached by the National Cancer Institute to study the

Contact: john_lacey@hms.harvard.edu
Harvard Medical School

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