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Napoleone Ferrara, MD

Napoleone Ferrara, MD

Moores Cancer Center; University of California San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, California

Class of 2013

The scientist credited with developing a brand new class of drugs to treat cancer, Dr. Ferrara started studying the changes in blood vessels in tumors in the 1980s while at the University of California, San Francisco. In the course of these studies, he identified an angiogenic signal secreted by pituitary cells. After moving his research efforts to Genentech in 1988, he isolated this angiogenic protein, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and cloned the VEGF gene. His laboratory identified and characterized the receptors of VEGF, their structure and function, regulation of VEGF activity and its role in physiological and pathological angiogenesis.

Dr. Ferrara ‘s research led to the development of the anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody bevacizumab (Avastin®) which was initially approved for the treatment of colorectal cancers. This drug is now used for a broad range of cancers in combination with standard chemotherapeutic drugs. His studies on the role of VEGF in intraocular neovascularization also led to the clinical development of ranibizumab (Lucentis®) for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration and other intraocular neovascular diseases. He is currently investigating the mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis alternative to VEGF.

Career Highlights

2015 Elected Member, National Academy of Medicine, USA
2014 Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award
2014 Gairdner Foundation International Award
2013 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2012 The Economist Innovation Award (Bioscience)
2011 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
2010 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award
2010 Macula Society-Michaelson Symposium Award
2009 Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research
2007 Science of Oncology Award, American Society of Clinical Oncology
2007 Biotech Hall of Fame Special Recognition for Scientific Achievement
2006 Passano Award
2006 General Motors Cancer Research Award
2006 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
2005 Lefoulon-Delalande-Institut-de-France Prize
2005 AACR -Bruce F. Cain Memorial Award
2004 American-Italian Cancer Foundation Prize
1981 MD, University of Catania, Italy