MSKCC Cancer Researcher Awarded International Prize in Biomedicine

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The BBVA Foundation has awarded Joan Massagué, Chairman of MSKCC’s Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, with its Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biomedicine category. This inaugural prize seeks to recognize world-class research at an international level and is secondary only to the Nobel Prize in its monetary amount. As a global financial group with Spanish roots, BBVA offers individual and corporate customers a range of financial and non-financial products and services.

Born in Barcelona, Dr. Massagué’s primary research interests involve how growth factors, signaling pathways, and gene expression programs control normal cell proliferation and cancer cell metastasis. Metastasis is the cause of 90 percent of deaths from cancer, yet little is know about its underlying mechanisms. Dr. Massagué’s work addresses this by exploiting the fact that tumors have distinct patterns of organ-specific colonization, each with a distinct biology and clinical evolution. His work involves identifying clinically relevant genes that mediate tumor microenvironment interactions, cancer cell entry and exit from the circulation, and cancer stem cell colonization of various organs.

“We are striving to move forward the frontiers of oncology, starting from the study of basic aspects like cell biology and behavior, in order to address others as concrete as metastasis, so that what yesterday seemed impossible is today a tentative promise and may in a few years’ time become a solution,” said Dr. Massagué.

The selection jury for the awards was chaired by Torsten Wiesel, Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, and included several, internationally known researchers including Angelika Schnieke, Juan Modolell, and Robin Lovell-Badge.

The BBVA Foundation supports knowledge generation, scientific research, and the promotion of culture, relaying the results of its work to society at large. This effort materializes in research projects, human capital investment, specialization courses, grants, and awards. The Frontiers of Knowledge Awards are given in eight categories — including Climate Change and Development Cooperation.