Royal recognition for US professors

Royal recognition for US professors

(From left) Ferrara: Findings aided cancer fight; Rumack: Expert in drug poisoning
(From left) Ferrara: Findings aided cancer fight; Rumack: Expert in drug poisoning

Two US professors were named winners of this year's Prince Mahidol Award in the fields of medicine and public health on Thursday.

Among 92 candidates from 31 countries, this year's Prince Mahidol Award in medicine went to Dr Napoleone Ferrara, a pathology professor and adjunct ophthalmology and pharmacology professor.

He is also a senior deputy director for basic science at Moores Cancer Center of the University of California San Diego.

Dr Ferrara discovered vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and made the first antibody against VEGF, which suppresses the growth of various tumours.

These findings helped develop the first clinically available angiogenesis inhibitor, bevacizumab (Avastin), which prevents the growth of new blood vessels into a solid tumour and has become part of standard treatment for various cancers.

Dr Ferrara's work also led to the development of ranibizumab (Lucentis), a highly effective drug for preventing vision loss in intraocular neovascular disorders.

Another awardee in the field of public health is Dr Barry H Rumack, an emeritus professor in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics of the University of Colorado. He has a keen interest in pharmacology and acetaminophen drug poisoning, which mainly causes acute liver failure.

Dr Rumack collected 64 cases of patient data who overdosed on the drug to create a graph and invented an assessment tool which has been used worldwide in the assessment of acetaminophen overdose treatment.

He also developed Poisindex, one of the first commercial databases, which could retrieve diagnosis and treatment data for various poisonous substances.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will bestow the award on behalf of His Majesty the King at Chakri Maha Prasat on Jan 24 next year.

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