Prof. Axel Ullrich

International Awards

Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence - Therapy in Malignancy
Axel Ullrich was born on October 19,1943, in Lauban, Schlesien, Germany. Prof Ullrich has been the Director of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck I nstitute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany since 1988. After taking a degree in biochemistry at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in Molecular Genetics in 1975.
He then did his postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco, from 1975 to 1977 and then worked as a senior scientist at Genentech in San Francisco, California from 1978 to 1988. From 1988, he has been at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry.He was one of the developers of the anti-cancer drug Trastuzumab and has founded at least three biotech companies one of which is Sugen which is owned by Pfizer.
For over 25 years Prof. Ullrich has been a leader in gene technology, translating basic science discoveries into medical applications. 
This led in the eighties to the development of Humulin (human Insulin for the treatment of diabetes; Lilly), the first therapeutic agent to be developed through gene-based technology and the first biotechnology product ever. Ullrich and his colleagues were the first to clone the genes for important hormones and growth factors, including the precursor to insulin and growth factors such as EGF, NGF, IGF-l and IGF-2.
Professor Ullrich is a monument in molecular biology and gene technology that has been the driving force for changing cancer therapeutics over the last two decades. It is through his skill and imagination that oncogenes are now targets for current cancer therapies. His research on EGF receptors had substantial implications for the advances in cancer research. Without his insight, Trastuzumab (Herceptin) would not be here as an effective agent. Herceptin was approved by the FDA in 1998 and represents the first targeted therapeutic agent to be developed on the basis of a newly discovered gene with an oncogenic function in human cancer. 
His group recently developed Sunitinib, a small molecule inhibitor of the multi¬targeted receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) function. Sunitinib was approved by the FDA and the European EMEA in 2006 for the treatment of kidney carcinoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. He established modern translational research, that goes all the way from a gene, to a biological mechanism, to the identification of a pathophysiological defect. and finally to a therapeutic application. 
Ullrich is the Director of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute of  Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, and his current research investigates the impact of SNPs on cancer progression, susceptibility, resistance, and therapeutic response. 
His scientific work has been published in more than 450 articles in international journals. He is the most cited German, and the third ranked European scientist, and number nine world wide cited scientist during the 1983-2007 period with 75,631 citations. A perusal of Prof. Ullrich's bibliography will quickly show that he has a remarkable ability to generate numerous parallel experimental studies, execute them meticulously and publish rigorous, elegant data in highly competitive journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Cancer Research etc. 
For more than 30 years, Ullrich has led the cancer research field in studying gene expression and translating basic science discoveries into clinical practice. With two cancer therapeutics that has emerged from his scientific work and several promising programs under development, he is uniquely successful in the held of translational cancer research worldwide. 
Since 1988, Prof. Ullrich has been Director of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried (Germany) and currently he is a visiting scientist at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore and Research Director of the Singapore Onco Genome Project. He is an Honorary Professor of the Second Military Medical University (Shanghai, China) and the University of TObingen and elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, the German Academy of Natural Scientists "Leopoldina" and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among other honours and awards, Prof. Ullrich received the Robert Koch Prize, the Bruce F. Cain Memorial Award of the American Association of Cancer Research, Clifford Prize for Cancer Research; the ASMR Medal from the Australian Society for Medical Research, the Warren Alpert Prize from Harvard Medical School, Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award and the King Faisal Prize of Medicine. His major contributions to Science have led to his being appointed to advisory boards of internationally renowned institutions such as the Wistar Institute (USA), the Biomedicum (Finland), the Max-Delbruck-Center for Molecular Medicine (Germany) and the International Advisory Council of the EDB (Singapore) . 
Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence is proud to recognize a brilliant scientist, Prof. Axel Ullrich whose work is an exceptional achievement in basic and translational cancer research for the term 2007-2008. 
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