Distinguished Professor of Pathology, Adjunct Professor of Opthalmology and Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego
The 2023 Duane Roth Achievement Award will be presented at the 19th Industry/Academia Next Generation Precision Oncology Symposium on April 27, 2023.
Napoleone Ferrara, M.D., is responsible for discovering Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), a key molecular mediator of new blood vessel formation, and for the development of effective anti-VEGF therapies for cancer and blinding eye disorders such as neovascular age-related macular degeneration. For a long time, it was not clearly understood how normal or cancerous cells elicit the development of a vascular supply.
At Genentech, Dr. Ferrara spent nearly 25 years working on the isolation, molecular cloning and biological characterization of VEGF, which resulted in the development of bevacizumab (Avastin), the first anti-angiogenic agent to be approved by the FDA for treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer, in 2004.
Subsequently, Avastin and other VEGF blockers have been approved for the treatment of several malignancies, including, kidney, ovarian, brain, and cervical cancers. Currently, Avastin and other anti-VEGF agents are among the most widely used cancer therapeutics and have shown additivity with immunotherapy in several cancer types. His research also led to the development of ranibizumab (Lucentis), which has been FDA-approved for the treatment of multiple intraocular neovascular disorders. Ranibizumab and other VEGF inhibitors are now standard of care for the treatment of multiple intraocular neovascular disorders.
Dr. Ferrara earned his M.D. degree in 1981 from the University of Catania Medical School in Italy. After completing his postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco, he joined Genentech Inc. in 1988. In December 2012, Dr. Ferrara joined the University of California, San Diego as a Distinguished Professor of Pathology, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology & Pharmacology, and Senior Deputy Director for Basic Science of the Moores Cancer Center. His research continues to focus on the biology of angiogenesis and the identification of its regulators.
Dr. Ferrara has authored over 300 scientific publications, which have been cited over 190,000 times according to Google Scholar. He is also the recipient of numerous scientific awards, including the, the Lefoulon-Delalande-Institut de France Prize, the Passano Award, the General Motors Cancer Research Award, the ASCO Science of Oncology Award, the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award, the Lasker-deBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, the Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award and the Gairdner Foundation International Award. Dr. Ferrara has been an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA since 2006 and became an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2015.
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