John Mendelsohn, MD
Professor and President, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2010-2011 BCRF Project:
Co-Investigator: Zhen Fan, MD
, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Breast tumor kinase (Brk) is an enzyme protein that is expressed in the tumors of approximately two-thirds of breast cancer patients. In a previous study also funded by BCRF, the Mendelsohn-Fan research team was able to identify the molecular mechanism through which Brk functions as an indispensable oncogenic partner for the HER (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor) family proteins that are critical for tumorigenesis, progression and invasion/metastasis of human breast cancer.
In 2010-2011, Drs. Mendelsohn and Fanwill continue the study to gain mechanistic insights into the impact of Brk on HER2-mediated oncogenic functions in breast cancer, with emphasis on establishing novel transgenic laboratory models reflecting the interaction between Brk and HER2 in breast cancer. Understanding of these mechanisms will guide development of new drugs targeting Brk as a novel therapy for breast cancer.
Mid-year Progress: Drs. Fan and Mendelsohn's innovative research aims to elucidate the role of an enzyme protein, known as breast tumor kinase (Brk), in breast cancer development. This group is in the process of generating laboratory models to mimic human breast cancer development. Their findings may justify development of new drugs against this protein for treating breast cancer.
Since becoming president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1996, Dr. John Mendelsohn has recruited a visionary management team and implemented new priorities for integrated programs in patient care, research, education and cancer prevention. Under his direction, MD Anderson has been named the top cancer hospital in the nation four out of the past six years in U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Hospitals" survey.
For almost three decades, Dr. Mendelsohn has been at the forefront in research on how growth factors regulate the proliferation of cancer cells by activating growth factor receptors on the cell surface which activate key signaling pathways within the cell. He and Dr. Gordon Sato developed a monoclonal antibody called Erbitux™, which blocks the activity of the receptor for epidermal growth factor. Dr. Mendelsohn's laboratory research studies advanced the concept of anti-receptor and anti-tyrosine kinase therapy as a new form of cancer treatment. His findings led to clinical trials which demonstrated that therapy combining his antireceptor antibody with chemotherapy or radiation is effective treatment for patients with several forms of cancer. On February 12, 2004, the FDA approved Erbitux™ for treatment of advanced colorectal cancer.
After receiving his undergraduate and medical training at Harvard, Dr. Mendelsohn joined the new medical school at the University of California San Diego in 1970. He was founding director of a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center at UCSD. In 1985 he moved to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he chaired, reorganized and expanded its Department of Medicine, and in 1996 he joined MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Mendelsohn has received many prizes and honors for his research and leadership accomplishments, including the Joseph H. Burchenal Clinical Research Award from the American Association for Cancer Research in 1999, the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2002 and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Freedom to Discover Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research in 2004. He served as the founding editor of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal published by the American Association for Cancer Research, and has authored more than 250 scientific papers and articles for journals and books. Dr. Mendelsohn and his wife, Anne, have three sons and jointly participate in multiple civic activities.