Future: Cancer Therapy
Joseph Schlessinger is Chair of the Pharmacology Department at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, as well as the founding director of the school’s Cancer Biology Institute.
Schlesinger was a member of the faculty of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, from 1978-1991 and co-founded biotechnology company Sugen, Inc. in 1991 and drug discovery company Plexxikon in 2001. In 2007, Schlessinger co-founded Kolltan Pharmaceuticals, an early-stage biotech that develops antibodies to treat solid tumors.
Schlessinger changed the way we think about cell surface receptors and signal transduction by providing many of our fundamental insights into how cell surface receptors are activated and how information is relayed from cell surface receptors into the cell.
He demonstrated that cancerous transformation can be caused by aberrant expression of an activated form of a tyrosine kinase receptor and that a human cancer can be driven by amplification of the EGF-receptor gene. In addition to these seminal discoveries, he provided the conceptual foundation for the rational and sophisticated development of a new family of cancer drugs including Sutent, a drug developed by his team at Sugen for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors and renal cancers.
Schlessinger earned a Ph.D. degree in biophysics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1974.
He has received numerous honors, including the Ciba-Drew Award (1995), Antoine Lacassagne Prize (1995), T he Distinguished Service Award of Miami Biotechnology in (1999), Honorary Membership of the Japanese Biochemical Society (1999), Taylor Prize (2000) and an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Haifa (2002).
Schlessinger is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the European Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. He serves on the editorial boards of numerous journals including Cell and Molecular Cell.
Dr. Joseph Schlessinger is awarded the 2006 Dan David Prize for his critical role in deciphering a new code for the flow of information from the cell surface into the cell. Dr. Schlessinger epitomizes the scientist that has paved the road from basic research in the laboratory, all the way to the patient.