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Sayer Vision Research Lecture and Award 2011

Dr. Napoleone Ferrara, winner of a 2010 Lasker Award, will deliver the fifth Sayer Vision Research Lecture on Thursday, June 30 at 1:00 p.m. in the Masur Auditorium, Building 10. His talk is titled “Basic Science and Clinical Application of VEGF.” See a Videocast of the lecture.

Ferrara, a Fellow at Genentech, Inc., has spent nearly 30 years working to understand the mechanisms of angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels). Early in his career, he played a key role in isolating and cloning vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). After Ferrara and colleagues showed that VEGF inhibition suppressed the growth of tumors in animal studies, they developed an anti-VEGF antibody, called bevacizumab, to treat cancer. This treatment impedes a tumor’s blood supply, limiting tumor growth and metastasis.

Ferrara’s laboratory also identified the role of VEGF in abnormal blood vessel growth in eye diseases such as wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. This finding led to the development of an anti-VEGF antibody fragment called ranibizumab, an FDA-approved compound that can significantly improve the sight of patients with wet AMD and reduce the risk of further vision loss

For his basic research findings and for developing an effective wet AMD treatment, Ferrara was honored with the 2010 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. His laboratory is currently expanding its scope to investigate other tumor growth factors, in particular those produced by myeloid cells and fibroblasts.

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