Napoleone Ferrara

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Napoleone Ferrara
Born(1956-07-26)26 July 1956
Alma mater
Known forVEGF discovery
Scientific career
Laura Perin, Napoleone Ferrara, and Matteo Garbelotto

Napoleone Ferrara (born 26 July 1956, Catania), is an Italian-American molecular biologist who joined University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center in 2013 after a career in Northern California at the biotechnology giant Genentech, where he pioneered the development of new treatments for angiogenic diseases such as cancer, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy.[1] At Genentech, he discovered VEGF—and made the first anti-VEGF antibody—which suppresses growth of a variety of tumors. These findings helped lead to development of the first clinically available angiogenesis inhibitor, bevacizumab (Avastin), which prevents the growth of new blood vessels into a solid tumor and which has become part of standard treatment for a variety of cancers.[citation needed] Ferrara's work led also to the development of ranibizumab (Lucentis), a drug that is highly effective at preventing vision loss in intraocular neovascular disorders.[citation needed]


Ferrara received his medical degree from the University of Catania, Italy, in 1981, and joined Genentech in 1988. He did his postdoctoral research at University of California, San Francisco.[2]

Current research[edit]

At UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, Ferrara, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2006, serves as Senior Deputy Director for Basic Science and is a Distinguished Professor of Pathology in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, where he will continue cancer drug research targeting angiogenesis.[citation needed] He is presently focusing on investigating mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis alternative to VEGF, in particular the role of factors produced by myeloid cells and fibroblasts in mediating resistance to VEGF inhibitors.[citation needed]

Selected honors and awards[edit]

For his VEGF discovery, he won a Lasker Award in 2010.[3] In 2013, he was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his work.[4] He has received numerous other awards, including the General Motors Cancer Research Award (2006), the ASCO Science of Oncology Award (2007), the Pezcoller Foundation/AACR International Award (2009), the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research (2011), and The Economist's Innovation Award for bioscience in 2012.[citation needed] Grand Prix scientifique de la Fondation Lefoulon-Delalande in 2005.[5]

In September 2014, Ferrara was awarded the António Champalimaud Vision Award, awarded by the Champalimaud Foundation.[6]


  1. ^ "Napoleone Ferrara, MD: Senior Deputy Director, Basic Science; Distinguished Professor of Pathology". UC San Diego Health Sciences. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  2. ^ Napoleone Ferrara discusses Avastin and the future of anti-angiogenesis therapy, ScienceDirect.
  3. ^ Strauss, Evelyn. "2010 Winners - Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award". The Lasker Foundation. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences - News". Archived from the original on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  5. ^ "Historique". Fondation Lefoulon-Delalande Institut de France. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  6. ^ Ferrara Receives Champalimaud Award for Role in Eye Disease Therapy, UC San Diego