William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, receives Princess Takamatsu award from AACR

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William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD, of Dana-Farber has received the 10th annual Princess Takamatsu Award for “novel and significant work” in cancer from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

As the latest in a series of distinguished scientists to receive the honor, Kaelin delivered the Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lecture on Monday at the AACR’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Kaelin, who is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, spoke on “New Cancer Treatment Strategies Emerging from Studies of the VHL and IDH Proteins.”

Named for Princess Kikuko Takamatsu of Japan, who was a champion for cancer research and international collaboration until her death in 2004, the award recognizes a body or work, carried out in part through multinational collaborations, that has or may have “a far-reaching impact on the detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer.”

Highlights of Kaelin’s research include discoveries about how the body senses and adapts to changes in oxygen levels – a mechanism that involves the tumor-suppressor protein VHL, which is mutated in many kidney cancers, and proteins known as hypoxia inducible factors, HIF-1α and HIF-2α. Kaelin showed that HIF-2α drives certain kidney cancers and recently discovered how HIF-1α is hijacked by triple-negative breast cancers. He is developing therapeutic strategies for targeting these molecules and others implicated in cancer, such as mutated enzymes IDH1 and IDH2, with designer drugs.

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