Dennis Slamon

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Dennis J. Slamon
Born (1948-08-08) August 8, 1948 (age 66)
New Castle, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Washington & Jefferson College (B.A.)
University of Chicago (Ph.D. cell biology, M.D. (1975))
Occupation oncologist, professor
Awards Gairdner Foundation International Award (2007)
Scheele Award (2009)

Dennis Joseph Slamon (born August 8, 1948),[1][2] is an American oncologist and chief of the division of Hematology-Oncology at UCLA. He is best known for his work identifying the HER2/neu oncogene that is amplified in 25-33% of breast cancer patients and the resulting treatment Herceptin.[3]

Slamon is the son of a West Virginia coal miner.[4] He attended Washington & Jefferson College for its pre-med program.[4]

He currently serves as director of Clinical/Translational Research at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center,[5] and as director of the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program at JCCC. He is a professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and executive vice chair for research for UCLA's Department of Medicine. Slamon also serves as director of the medical advisory board for the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance, a fund-raising organization that promotes advances in colorectal cancer.

For 12 years, Dr. Slamon and his colleagues conducted the laboratory and clinical research that led to the development of the new breast cancer drug Herceptin, which targets a specific genetic alteration found in about 25 percent of breast cancer patients. To acknowledge Slamon's accomplishments, President Bill Clinton appointed Slamon to the three-member President's Cancer Panel in June 2000.

A 1975 honors graduate of the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, Slamon earned his Ph.D. in cell biology that same year. He completed his internship and residency at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics, becoming chief resident in 1978. One year later, he became a fellow in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at UCLA, Los Angeles.

His life and research was the template for the plot of the film Living Proof (2008), starring Harry Connick, Jr..[6]

Slamon and his colleagues set out to find ways to target their treatments. They took breast cancer cells and mimicked what was happening in their patients, looking at genetic alterations in the genes that regulate growth. One of them was a gene called HER-2, human epidermal growth factor receptor No. 2. The researchers saw that women who had the HER-2 alteration weren't doing as well because they had a more aggressive tumor. That made it a logical target. Slamon's group found that when they added an antibody to the receptor that the gene made when it mutated, the tumor growth rate dropped dramatically. The process of identifying the target and validating it in the laboratory worked not just for breast cancer, but for other major malignancies, he said. The UCLA researchers developed models for several cancers, seeing which antibodies worked and which didn't.

Slamon was given the Scheele Award in 2009.

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