Mark Philips, MD, Awarded 2011 BioAccelerate NYC Prize for Cancer Drug Discovery Research at NYU Cancer Institute

NYU Langone Medical Center today announced Mark Philips, MD, associate director for basic research at NYU Cancer Institute and professor, Departments of Medicine, Cell Biology and Pharmacology, is a recipient of the 2011 BioAccelerate NYC Prize for his novel research on K-Ras, known as one of the most important human oncogenes in cancer drug discovery.

“We are extremely proud Dr. Philips has been awarded the 2011 BioAccelerate NYC Prize,” said William Carroll, MD, the Julie and Edward J. Minskoff Professor of Pediatrics, and director, NYU Cancer Institute. “Dr. Philips’s research of K-Ras exemplifies the types of innovative research done here every day. Our researchers are at the forefront of devising effective solutions for complex healthcare issues and we have consistently garnered patents and licensing agreements to showcase our position as a leading academic medical center.”

With the support of the NYC BioAccelerate Prize, Dr. Philips will pursue two objectives of drug discovery. The first objective is based on a specific pathway that modifies K-Ras that he has studied for more than a decade. He will develop chemical inhibitors of this pathway. The second approach is to use an unbiased screen to reveal new genes involved in the association of K-Ras with cell membranes and inhibitors of the association that could be developed as drugs.

The prize is sponsored by the Partnership for New York City and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The New York City Investment Fund (NYCIF), the Partnership’s economic development arm, organized and provided the funding for the project. The BioAccelerate NYC prize provides critical funding to bio-medical researchers with significant commercial promise. Prize recipients’ research is at the proof of concept stage, a point at which research often stalls due to lack of funding.

Dr. Philips was awarded this prize for his research at NYU Langone which has a high potential for cancer pharmaceutical development. Of 55 applications, five winners were selected after a competitive process in which all applicants were vetted by venture capitalists and senior executives from the life science industry. In addition to funding, Dr. Philips is also paired with an entrepreneur mentor to provide advice on commercial issues, including strategy, business planning and funding of resulting drugs.

Mutation of the protein K-Ras is an essential step in the development of cancers, such as those of lung, pancreas, and colon, making this oncogene highly significant for cancer research and public health. In its normal form, the K-Ras protein is turned on and off to control pathways that regulate cell growth. The mutant form, however, is locked in the on position, which causes cells to grow uncontrollably and, at the same time, turns off programmed cell death, or apoptosis, the normal process that tells a cell when it is time to die.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011