The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has chosen Prof. Alexander Levitzki of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as the winner of its 2013 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research.
The AACR is currently holding its annual meeting through Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Levitzki, professor of biological chemistry at the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University, will deliver his award lecture there on Tuesday afternoon on “Eradicating Tumors by Targeting Nonviral Vectors Carrying PolyIC.”
The AACR said that Levitzki was chosen for the honor in recognition of his contributions to signal transduction therapy and his work on the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors as effective agents against cancer.
Levitzki’s concept of targeted cancer therapy using protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors is extensively used by the pharmaceutical industry worldwide to develop anticancer drugs. His studies formed the basis for the development of drugs like imatinib, crizotinib and lapatinib, used for the treatment of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, lung cancer and breast cancer, respectively. Currently there are more than 200 such inhibitors at various stages of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process.
His method of large-scale screening of synthetic compounds tested against a large spectrum of protein kinases for specificity, followed by systematic testing in cell lines and animal studies, became the standard procedure in most of the laboratories working in that field.
Levitzki has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Israel Prize in Biochemistry, the Wolf Prize for Medicine, the Hamilton-Fairley Award from the European Society of Medical Oncology, the Rothschild Prize in Biology and two Prostate Cancer Foundation Research Awards. Last year he received the Nauta Award in Pharmacochemistry, which is the highest award from the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry.
He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Israel Cancer Association, was chairman of the Division of Natural Sciences at the Israel Academy of Sciences, an honorary member of the American Society of Biological Chemists and an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. He served as president and vice president of the Federation of Israeli Societies of Experimental Biology and received an honorary Ph.D. from Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.
Levitzki was a member of the scientific advisory board of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and has served on the editorial board of several journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Science, European Journal of Biochemistry, Current Signal Transduction Therapy and the European Journal of Chemical Biology.