Prof. Brian J Druker

International Awards

Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence - Targeted Therapy
2013-2014

Personal Details/Academic Background:

Prof. Brian Druker is the Director of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the Associate Dean for Oncology at OHSU School of Medicine, JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research at OHSU, and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the United States of America.

Druker studied at the University of California, School of Medicine where he completed his MD in 1981. Thereafter, he did his Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine in the Barnes Hospital, School of Medicine, Washington University 1981 - 1984. He received his Fellowship in Medical Oncology from the Dana- Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA.
 

Responsibilities and Assignments

Dr Druker climbed up the academic ladder thanks to his determination and continuous hard work. He started at Harvard Medical School in Boston as an Instructor in Medicine during his studies. With his highly significant achievements, he became an Associate Professor at OHSU in 1993. He directed and co-directed a number of study programs and research centers. Examples of the former include; Hematologic Malignancies, OHSU MD/PhD Program, while examples research centers include the Center for Hematologic Malignancies, OHSU Cancer Institute. Druker obtained professorship in 2000 at the Department of Medicine, OHSU. Furthermore, Druker progressed on the clinical front equally impressively. He had worked as a clinical associate at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and a Medical Director at Nashoba Community Hospital, Oncology Clinic in Ayer, USA. And currently he is a Staff Physician at University Hospital and Clinics, OHSU.

Druker's work in scientific research revolved around the identification and characterization of the substrates for activated tyrosine kinases with specific emphasis on the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase, and the evaluation of specific ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors as mechanism-based therapeutic agents for chronic myelogenous leukemia. His current research focus includes a major initiative to expand the paradigm of targeted therapy to include early detection of cancer and, eventually, prevention.
 

Research and Achievements:

Prof. Druker has achieved international recognition for his work on the molecular pathogenesis of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). This disease is associated with the tyrosine kinase BCR-ABL, which is overactive in CML. Druker developed a way to measure the activity of BCR-ABL and then identified a compound—imatinib—that could block this activity.

Dr. Druker then worked perseveringly and judiciously to persuade executives at Novartis that imatinib was an excellent candidate for clinical trials in patients with CML. He designed Phase I trials, and was the principal investigator for these trials. Imatinib was remarkably successful; it induced remission in CML patients, and it also produced almost no side-effects. Dr. Druker spearheaded the late phase studies to confirm the superiority of imatinib in all stages of CML. These studies were again so successful that imatinib was granted FDA approval in record time for an anti-neoplastic agent. In addition to CML, Gleevec is now FDA approved for 10 other types of cancer, including gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). But perhaps the most lasting contribution of Druker’s work is the proof it established that targeted therapy works.

Prof. Druker’s work produced a paradigm shift in cancer treatment, from toxic chemotherapeutic agents to highly targeted therapeutic agents. Having demonstrated that kinase inhibitors can be given safely and effectively, his work invigorated small molecule development in the pharmaceutical industry and spurred extensive research at universities, the National Insitutes of Health (NIH), and institutes worldwide. Druker’s groundbreaking work is ushering in a new era of cancer therapy, in which tumors are being defined by their molecular underpinnings and personalized treatments can be designed based on functional and genomic analyses. His work also established key premises for large-scale projects such as the Cancer Genome Atlas, studies of molecular mechanisms of resistance to targeted agents, and to different combinations of these agents.
 

Awards and Recognition:

In recognition of his groundbreaking accomplishments, Dr. Druker has received numerous honors and awards, most notably the 2009 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and most recently, the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science, and he is one of the “Giants of Cancer Care - OncLive”. Druker received the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, and the AACI Distinguished Scientist Award from the Association of American Cancer Institutes. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2003 and the National Academy of Science in 2007, and has been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2002.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions in the field of Targeted Therapy, Prof. Brian Druker is awarded the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence for the term 2013-2014.

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