APRIL 24, 2020, New York— Ludwig Cancer Research congratulates George Demetri, Co-director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard, on his receipt of the 2020 David A. Karnofsky Award and Lecture. Among the most prestigious honors bestowed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Karnofsky Award recognizes outstanding contributions to cancer research, diagnosis and treatment.
Demetri has made enormous contributions to our understanding of the biology and treatment of cancers that arise in the soft tissue and bone, known as sarcomas. His development of selective inhibitors of the mutated KIT oncogene led in 2002 to historic approval of the first targeted therapy, imatinib, for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), the most common type of sarcoma. Imatinib was developed to inhibit the fusion oncoprotein, BCR-ABL in chronic myeloid leukemia, and has since been approved for another rare sarcoma (DFSP) and other hematologic malignancies.
Demetri’s subsequent research led to the approval of second and third generation treatments for GISTs, as well as treatments for other sarcomas. His work has broadly influenced the development of drugs for a wide range of malignancies, including the recent inhibitors of oncogenic TRK-fusions in rare subsets of virtually all cancers. A champion of collaborative yet innovative research, Demetri continues to explore the basic molecular mechanisms of tumor growth and drug resistance and to translate those discoveries into novel cancer therapies.
Demetri also serves as senior vice president for experimental therapeutics and director of the Sarcoma Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School in Boston.