2018 NAVBO Earl P. Benditt Award - Rakesh Jain, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
The NAVBO Meritorious Awards Committee and Council is pleased to announce the selection of Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D., as the 2018 recipient of the Earl P. Benditt Award, in recognition of his numerous contributions to our understanding of the unique characteristics of tumor vasculature. Dr. Jain is currently the Andrew Werk Cook Professor of Tumor Biology (Radiation Oncology) at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He will present the Benditt Lecture and receive the award, one of NAVBO's highest honors, at Vascular Biology 2018 in Newport, Rhode Island (October 17, 2018).
Following undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, Dr. Jain received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware. He held faculty positions in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon University prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1991. He has served on a multitude of editorial boards, review panels, and advisory groups. Dr. Jain’s research has been supported steadily for decades by the NIH and other agencies, including the Gates Foundation and Department of Defense. His scholarly contributions, reported in well over 650 publications, book chapters, and reviews, have earned Dr. Jain scores of awards and honors in the U.S. and internationally, including election to the United States National Academies of Medicine (2003), Engineering (2004), and Sciences (2009). He holds seven U.S. patents and received the United States National Medal of Science for 2013.
Dr. Jain is regarded as a trailblazer in the study of tumor microenvironment, examining in detail the notion that the relationships between tumors and their surrounding non-tumor tissue—including blood vessels—are essential determinants of disease progression, therapeutic efficacy, and patient prognosis. Dr. Jain’s nominators note that, in sum, his work has provided “…unprecedented molecular, cellular, anatomical and functional insights into the vascular pathophysiology of tumors, for proposing the seminal hypothesis that antiangiogenic therapy can ‘normalize’ the aberrant vasculature and microenvironment of tumors and thereby improve both delivery and efficacy of treatment of solid tumors.” His studies revealed that the blood and lymphatic vasculature, fibroblasts, immune cells and the extracellular matrix associated with tumors are abnormal, collectively creating a hostile tumor microenvironment characterized by hypoxia, low pH and high interstitial fluid pressure. He and his collaborators subsequently hypothesized that normalizing the microenvironment may improve treatment outcome and subsequently have demonstrated that judicious use of antiangiogenic agents—originally designed to starve tumors—could transiently “normalize” tumor vasculature, alleviate hypoxia, increase delivery of drugs and anti-tumor immune cells, and improve the outcome of various therapies, including immunotherapy. Dr. Jain’s more recent work includes efforts to improve the vascular competence of engineered tissue in the context of regenerative medicine. By generating endothelial and smooth muscle cells from human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, his lab is bringing functional and durable engineered vessels closer to translation into the clinic.
Please join us for VB2018 in Newport this October to honor Dr. Jain as he receives this well-deserved award. Dr. Jain will give his talk, "Reengineering the tumor microenvironment to improve cancer treatment: Bench to bedside" on October 17, 2018 at 3:15pm in the Grand Ballroom of Gurney's Newport Resort and Marina.
Compiled by William R. Huckle,