George Yancopoulos

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George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D. (born 1959) is an American biomedical scientist who is the co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc..[1]

Yancopoulos is the holder of more than 100 patents.[2] He is a principal inventor and developer of Regeneron's six FDA-approved medicines, as well as of Regeneron's foundational technologies for target and drug development, such as its proprietary TRAP technology, and the VelociGene and VelocImmune antibody technologies.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

He spent his early childhood in Woodside, New York. As a student at the Bronx High School of Science, Yancopoulos was a top winner of the 1976 Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Intel and then Regeneron later assumed the title sponsorship for the Science Talent Search.[5]

After graduating as valedictorian of both the Bronx High School of Science and Columbia College, Yancopoulos received his MD and PhD degrees in 1987 from Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons. He then worked in the field of molecular immunology at Columbia University with Dr. Fred Alt, for which he received the Lucille P. Markey Scholar Award.[6]

He currently resides in Yorktown Heights[7]

Scientific career[edit]

Based on his scientific publications, he was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences[6] and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. According to a study by the Institute for Scientific Information, he was the eleventh most highly cited scientist in the world during the 1990s, and the only scientist from the biotechnology industry on the list.[8]

Yancopoulos has cloned novel families of growth factors, including ephrins/Ephs and angiopoietins, and elucidated the basis of how many receptors work.[9] His work has included study of how nerves regenerate[6] and how muscles connect to nerves.[10]

In 1985, along with his mentor Dr. Fred Alt, he was the first to propose making mouse models with genetically human immune systems ("Humab mice").[11] This research led to Yancopoulos developing "the most valuable mouse ever made," bred to have immune systems that respond just as a human's would, so that it can be used for testing how the human body might react to various pharmaceuticals and other substances.[6]

Much of Yancopoulos and Alt's work in immunology including common recombination, accessibility control of recombination and scanning or tracking of recombinant action, has been recently validated.[12]


Yancopoulos left academia in 1989 to become the founding scientist and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron with Founder and Chief Executive Officer Leonard Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D. In 2016, Yancopoulos was also named President of the company.[13]

Yancopoulos plays an active role in Regeneron's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education commitments, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation's oldest high school science and math competition.[14]

In 2014, Yancopoulos led the launch of the Regeneron Genetics Center, a major initiative in human genetic research that has sequenced exomes from over 300,000 people as of June 2018.[15][16]

Forbes magazine states Yancopoulos' financial stake in Regeneron has made him a billionaire. He is the first research and development chief in the pharmaceutical industry to become a billionaire.[17]

Boards and awards[edit]

Yancopoulos won a NY/NJ CEO Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.[18]

Yancopoulos has been awarded Columbia University's Stevens Triennial Prize for Research and its University Medal of Excellence for Distinguished Achievement.[19]

In 2016, Leonard Schleifer and George Yancopoulos were named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year 2016 National Award Winners in life sciences.[20]

The George D. Yancopoulos Young Scientist Award is given at the Westchester Science & Engineering Fair.[21]

He was inducted into the Bronx Science Hall of Fame in 2017.[22]

Key Papers[edit]

  • Yancopoulos GD, Alt FW (February 1985). "Developmentally controlled and tissue-specific expression of unrearranged VH gene segments". Cell. 40 (2): 271–81. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(85)90141-2. PMID 2578321.
  • Yancopoulos GD, Blackwell TK, Suh H, Hood L, Alt FW (January 1986). "Introduced T cell receptor variable region gene segments recombine in pre-B cells: evidence that B and T cells use a common recombinase". Cell. 44 (2): 251–9. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(86)90759-2. PMID 3484682.
  • Maisonpierre PC, Belluscio L, Squinto S, et al. (March 1990). "Neurotrophin-3: a neurotrophic factor related to NGF and BDNF". Science. 247 (4949 Pt 1): 1446–51. doi:10.1126/science.2321006. PMID 2321006.
  • Boulton TG, Nye SH, Robbins DJ, et al. (May 1991). "ERKs: a family of protein-serine/threonine kinases that are activated and tyrosine phosphorylated in response to insulin and NGF". Cell. 65 (4): 663–75. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(91)90098-J. PMID 2032290.
  • Glass DJ, Nye SH, Hantzopoulos P, et al. (July 1991). "TrkB mediates BDNF/NT-3-dependent survival and proliferation in fibroblasts lacking the low affinity NGF receptor". Cell. 66 (2): 405–13. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(91)90629-D. PMID 1649703.
  • Davis S, Aldrich TH, Valenzuela DM, et al. (July 1991). "The receptor for ciliary neurotrophic factor". Science. 253 (5015): 59–63. doi:10.1126/science.1648265. PMID 1648265.
  • Ip NY, Stitt TN, Tapley P, et al. (February 1993). "Similarities and differences in the way neurotrophins interact with the Trk receptors in neuronal and nonneuronal cells". Neuron. 10 (2): 137–49. doi:10.1016/0896-6273(93)90306-C. PMID 7679912.
  • Davis S, Gale NW, Aldrich TH, et al. (November 1994). "Ligands for EPH-related receptor tyrosine kinases that require membrane attachment or clustering for activity". Science. 266 (5186): 816–9. doi:10.1126/science.7973638. PMID 7973638.
  • DeChiara TM, Vejsada R, Poueymirou WT, et al. (October 1995). "Mice lacking the CNTF receptor, unlike mice lacking CNTF, exhibit profound motor neuron deficits at birth". Cell. 83 (2): 313–22. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(95)90172-8. PMID 7585948.
  • Economides AN, Ravetch JV, Yancopoulos GD, Stahl N (November 1995). "Designer cytokines: targeting actions to cells of choice". Science. 270 (5240): 1351–3. doi:10.1126/science.270.5240.1351. PMID 7481821.
  • DeChiara TM, Bowen DC, Valenzuela DM, et al. (May 1996). "The receptor tyrosine kinase MuSK is required for neuromuscular junction formation in vivo". Cell. 85 (4): 501–12. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81251-9. PMID 8653786.
  • Glass DJ, Bowen DC, Stitt TN, et al. (May 1996). "Agrin acts via a MuSK receptor complex". Cell. 85 (4): 513–23. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81252-0. PMID 8653787.
  • Davis S, Aldrich TH, Jones PF, et al. (December 1996). "Isolation of angiopoietin-1, a ligand for the TIE2 receptor, by secretion-trap expression cloning". Cell. 87 (7): 1161–9. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81812-7. PMID 8980223.
  • Shrivastava A, Radziejewski C, Campbell E, et al. (December 1997). "An orphan receptor tyrosine kinase family whose members serve as nonintegrin collagen receptors". Molecular Cell. 1 (1): 25–34. doi:10.1016/S1097-2765(00)80004-0. PMID 9659900.
  • DeChiara TM, Kimble RB, Poueymirou WT, et al. (March 2000). "Ror2, encoding a receptor-like tyrosine kinase, is required for cartilage and growth plate development". Nature Genetics. 24 (3): 271–4. doi:10.1038/73488. PMID 10700181.
  • Holash J, Davis S, Papadopoulos N, et al. (August 2002). "VEGF-Trap: a VEGF blocker with potent antitumor effects". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99 (17): 11393–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.172398299. PMC 123267. PMID 12177445.
  • Valenzuela DM, Murphy AJ, Frendewey D, et al. (June 2003). "High-throughput engineering of the mouse genome coupled with high-resolution expression analysis". Nature Biotechnology. 21 (6): 652–9. doi:10.1038/nbt822. PMID 12730667.
  • Economides AN, Carpenter LR, Rudge JS, et al. (January 2003). "Cytokine traps: multi-component, high-affinity blockers of cytokine action". Nature Medicine. 9 (1): 47–52. doi:10.1038/nm811. PMID 12483208.


Yancopoulos has been confirmed to speak at the annual drug development festival Biotech Week Boston in September 2019. [23]


  1. ^ "Exclusive: Biotech Regeneron on verge of big leagues". Reuters. May 12, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  2. ^ "George Yancopoulos". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  3. ^ Toni Nasr (February 5, 2018). "Regeneron Investment: Healthcare With Wealthcare". Seeking Alpha.
  4. ^ "Our Team". Regeneron. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  5. ^ Ron Winslow (May 26, 2016). "Regeneron Named as Science Talent Search Sponsor". The Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ a b c d "George Yancopoulos: Doing Well by Trying to Do Good". Scientific American. October 6, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  7. ^ "Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, Founding Scientist, Regeneron Laboratories, to Be Honored by Burke Rehabilitation Center". Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. May 29, 2013.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "George D. Yancopoulos". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  10. ^ "How Nerve Meets Muscle and Begins to Talk". New York Times. May 21, 1996. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  11. ^ Matthew Herper (August 14, 2013). "How Two Guys From Queens Are Changing Drug Discovery". Forbes.
  12. ^ Michael S. Krangel (December 1, 2015). "Beyond Hypothesis: Direct Evidence That V(D)J Recombination Is Regulated by the Accessibility of Chromatin Substrates". Journal of Immunology.
  13. ^ "George D. Yancopoulos". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  14. ^ "Regeneron Founded by Two STS Alumni". Society for Science & the Public. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  15. ^ Andrew Pollack (January 13, 2014). "Aiming to Push Genomics Forward in New Study". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Alex Philippidis (November 15, 2017). "Regeneron Genetics Center Surpasses 250K Exomes Sequenced, and Ramping Up". Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
  17. ^ Mathew, Herper. "Regeneron's George Yancopoulos Becomes Pharma's First Billionaire R&D Chief". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, Founding Scientist, Regeneron Laboratories, to Be Honored by Burke Rehabilitation Center". Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  20. ^ John Golden (November 22, 2016). "Regeneron's Schleifer, Yancopoulos share Entrepreneur of Year award". Westfair Online.
  21. ^ "Advisory Council: George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD". LifeSci NYC. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  22. ^ Sofie Levine (May 30, 2018). "George Yancopoulos '76". The Science Survey.
  23. ^ "Biotech Week Boston".