2012 NAVBO Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology -
Cam Patterson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dr. Patterson accepts the 2012 Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology from Dr. Klaus Ley (Meritorious Awards Committee Chair and President-Elect) at the NAVBO Workshops in Vascular Biology 2012 in Monterey, CA
At the recent NAVBO meeting in Asilomar, Cam Patterson received the Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology. Cam gave a very inspiring talk on the power of translational research and how his own research efforts have led to an incipient product that is now in clinical trials. What is most amazing is that the discovery came in an unexpected area: cancer, not vascular biology.
Cam received his M.D. from Emory, where he also completed his residency in cardiology. After a postdoc with Ed Haber at Harvard, he moved to the University of Texas at Galveston and, in 2000, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the McAllister Heart Institute for 10 years. In 2005, he became Associate Dean for Health Care Entrepreneurship and Chief of the Division of Cardiology.
When I asked Cam what his proudest achievement was, he did not hesitate a moment: "The 45 training grants I helped my trainees obtain." Over the years, Cam's research covered many areas including the role of ubiquitin ligases in vascular biology.
But the most impactful discovery was the development of an antibody that is currently in phase 1 clinical trials for tumor angiogenesis. The discovery strategy was based on laser capture microdissection of human breast cancer specimens followed by transcriptomic analysis. Then, Cam and his team screened the transcripts for cell surface and secreted proteins and came up with 8 candidates. The most promising target turned out to be SFRP2, a secreted ligand for the Frizzled-5 receptor. The antibody to SFRP2 appears to work in tumors that have become resistant to standard anti-VEGF therapy. Preclinical toxicology tests were successfully conducted in SCID mice bearing human breast cancers, and Cam found that his SFRP2 antibody accumulates in the tumor. Recently, he raised $ 5 million from philanthropists and private donors for a phase I clinical trial.
This amazing story closes the loop from bedside to bench to bedside and emphasizes that discovery is always unexpected. How fitting that Cam received the Folkman award, named after the founding pioneer of angiogenesis research applied to tumor biology. Congratulations!
by Klaus Ley