AUGUST 20, 2019, New York— Ludwig Cancer Research congratulates Ludwig Johns Hopkins Co-director Bert Vogelstein and Ludwig Stanford Director Irv Weissman on receiving the prestigious Albany Prize.
Weissman and Vogelstein have transformed our understanding of human biology and disease. They continue to make discoveries of profound importance to medicine, even as they translate those findings into promising new therapies and diagnostic technologies.
A pioneer of stem cell biology, Weissman is renowned for being the first to isolate and characterize a human tissue stem cell, the one that generates the variegated cellular components of blood. In studying this stem cell and the processes of hematopoiesis, Weissman and his team made discoveries and technical innovations that are today revolutionizing everything from organ transplantation to the treatment of autoimmune diseases and, of course, cancer. Their discovery of a “don’t eat me” signal transmitted by a broad spectrum of cancers to evade the immune system’s macrophages, for example, has resulted in the development of a novel immunotherapy for cancer that is now being evaluated in clinical trials.
Vogelstein first made his mark on cancer research in the 1980s, modeling in a landmark publication the progressive mutational events underlying colorectal cancer and describing how the loss of tumor suppressor genes drives the genesis of such cancers. He went on to describe the genetics of an inherited propensity for cancer known as Lynch syndrome and then, in partnership with his long-time collaborator and Ludwig Johns Hopkins Co-director Kenneth Kinzler, sequenced the first cancer exome—the full spectrum of genes expressed by a cancer. Vogelstein’s team has since described the genetic landscapes of scores of distinct malignancies, identifying many novel cancer genes in the process. He and his colleagues have also parlayed their discoveries, and the technologies they developed to make them, into “liquid biopsies” for the minimally invasive and earlier detection of cancers.
We are proud to count such creative, accomplished scientists in our community and grateful to them for their inspired leadership in confronting the challenges posed by cancer and their mentorship of dozens of gifted young cancer researchers. A more detailed account of their careers is available in the Albany Medical Center release available here.