The 2013 Scientific Achievement Award winners are listed below.
John Jacob Abel Award in Pharmacology
Arthur Christopoulos, Ph.D.
Arthur Christopoulos, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology at Monash University and Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, is the recipient of the 2013 John J. Abel Award, sponsored by Pfizer. Dr. Christopoulos receives the John J. Abel Award as an outstanding young investigator in recognition of his fundamental contributions to the field of analytical pharmacology and the study of G protein-coupled receptors, notably in his work on allosteric modulation and biased signaling of GPCRs.
Dr. Christopoulos is one of the world’s leading receptor pharmacologists. His key contributions to the field have been the dissemination of the concept of GPCR allosterism and the development of assays and analytical procedures that facilitate the detection, validation, and quantification of allosteric drug effects and ligand-based signaling. This work has had a major impact on modern GPCR focused drug discovery.
Dr. Christopoulos received his Ph.D. from the Victorian College of Pharmacy at Monash University in Australia. Following his post-doctoral training at the University of Minnesota, he returned to Australia and established his own laboratory with a view to develop analytical pharmacology techniques to address many of the preclinical challenges of modern drug discovery. More recently, his work has turned to understanding the structural basis underlying allosteric modulator effects at GPCRs as well as overcoming translational bottlenecks in progressing modulator-focused drug discovery programs.
He is the highest-ranked Australian based scientist in the disciplines of pharmacology and toxicology. Additionally, Dr. Christopoulos also serves on the editorial board of eight international journals, including Molecular Pharmacology, the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and Pharmacological Reviews.
Dr. Christopoulos was presented the 2013 John J. Abel Award on Saturday, April 20 at the Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics/Experimental Biology (EB) 2013 Meeting in Boston, MA. The ASPET Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony took place at the Boston Convention Center, Room 107AB from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. immediately followed by the Opening Reception. Dr. Christopoulos’ John J. Abel Award Lecture was titled, “Reciprocal relationships: The yin and yang of GPCR allostery” and was delivered on Monday, April 22 from 8:30 – 9:20 a.m. in Room 107C at the Boston Convention Center.
Julius Axelrod Award in Pharmacology
Lee E. Limbird, Ph.D.
Dr. Lee Limbird, Professor of Biochemistry and Dean of the School of Natural Sciences at Fisk University has been named recipient of the 2013 Julius Axelrod Award in Pharmacology by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). Dr. Limbird is recognized for her major contributions to research and her outstanding leadership and mentorship to several generations of graduate students. The Julius Axelrod Award, named after the 1970 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine, is given to recognize outstanding scientific contributions in research and mentoring in pharmacology. The Award was established to honor the memory of the eminent American pharmacologist who shaped the fields of neuroscience, drug metabolism, and biochemistry.
Dr. Limbird obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the College of Wooster in Ohio and earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. After post-doctoral research at Duke University, she joined the Department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, where she would chair the department and later serve as Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s first Associate Vice Chancellor for Research. She represented Vanderbilt on numerous state academic partnerships. In 2005, she joined Meharry Medical College as Vice President for Research and Chair of the multidisciplinary Department of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Limbird would move to Fisk University in 2008.
Since her post-doctoral fellowship at Duke under Nobel Laureate Robert Lefkowitz, Dr.Limbird’s research career has focused on G-protein coupled receptors. Her research on alpha-2 adrenergic receptors is considered pioneering and showed how those specific receptors relate to regulation of blood pressure, sedation, pain suppression, and opioid drug action. She has also devised strategies for selective manipulation of these receptors, opening up opportunities for therapeutic development.
In addition to her many significant research discoveries, Dr. Limbird is credited with many for bringing Vanderbilt’s Department of Pharmacology to its leading position. Her devotion to Vanderbilt’s academic excellence, mentoring and nurturing of students, postdocs, and young faculty are legendary and extend to offering personal support for many student related activities including travel to meetings. While at Vanderbilt, she developed a partnership with Meharry’s Department of Pharmacology to catalyze interactions between the two departments.
Dr. Limbird has been a recipient of many awards including ASPET’s John Jacob Abel Award for young investigators and the Goodman and Gilman Award for Receptor Pharmacology. She has served on numerous NIH review committees and has been active in ASPET serving as Councilor, Secretary/Treasurer, and in other leadership capacities. She has received many teaching awards given by the graduate students themselves, and many of her own doctoral and post-doctoral students are among the most successful in academia and industry.
Dr. Limbird was presented the ASPET-Julius Axelrod Award in Pharmacology on Saturday, April 20 at the ASPET Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics/Experimental Biology (EB) 2013 Meeting in Boston, MA. The ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony took place at the Boston Convention Center, Room 107AB from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. immediately followed by the Opening Reception. Dr. Limbird gave the 2014 Julius Axelrod Lecture. The 2013 Julius Axelrod Award Lecture was given by last year’s recipient, Gavril W. Pasternak, Ph.D., of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Pasternak delivered a lecture titled, “No pain, big gain: Truncated mu opioid receptor splice variants as drug targets,” on Sunday, April 21 from 2:00 – 2:50 p.m. in Room 107AB in the Boston Convention Center.
Pharmacia-ASPET Award for Experimental Therapeutics
Richard R. Neubig, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Richard R. Neubig, Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, co-director of the Center for Chemical Genomics, and Director of the Center for the Discovery of New Medicines at the University of Michigan, is the recipient of the 2013 Pharmacia-ASPET Award for Experimental Therapeutics. The Pharmacia-ASPET Award for Experimental Therapeutics is given annually to recognize and stimulate outstanding research in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics—basic laboratory or clinical research that has had, or potentially will have, a major impact on the pharmacological treatment of disease. This award is funded by an endowment from Pharmacia (now Pfizer) and by ASPET.
Dr. Neubig earned his dual degrees from Harvard and undertook an internal medicine residency at the University of Michigan. After that he was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology. He quickly established himself as an international authority on the biochemistry and pharmacology of the alpha2-adrenergic receptor. As a result of these important scientific contributions, Dr. Neubig attained full professorship only 10 years after assuming a faculty position. He is considered one of the pioneers in the investigation of the biophysics of adrenergic receptors and GPCRs in general. More recently, Dr. Neubig has contributed a series of critical reports proving that the set of proteins directly regulating G protein signaling (RGS molecules) regulates signaling in intact cells. For these and other important contributions, Dr. Neubig is widely considered to be one of the leading authorities on RGS proteins both nationally and internationally.
Together with colleagues, he helped establish the Center for Chemical Genomics (CCG) where investigators across the University have isolated several novel compounds that could lead to the development of novel therapeutics. The success of the CCG was recognized by the University when it named him the Director of the Center of Discovery of New Medicines.
Dr. Neubig is President-elect of ASPET and has been active in the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. He is co-founder of the Great Lakes GPCR Retreat, an annual meeting that has gained international stature and is now considered one of the field’s most informative and intense conferences focusing on GPCR signaling. He has also made significant contributions to education and mentorship. He has contributed to graduate and medical school curriculum and serves as course director or co-director of several courses. He has served as thesis advisor for over 60 graduate students.
Dr. Neubig was presented the Pharmacia-ASPET Award on Saturday, April 20 at the Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics/Experimental Biology (EB) 2013 Meeting in Boston, MA. The ASPET Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony took place at the Boston Convention Center, Room 107AB from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. immediately followed by the Opening Reception.
Robert R. Ruffolo Career Achievement Award in Pharmacology
Pancras C. Wong, Ph.D.
Dr. Pancras C. Wong, Senior Research Fellow at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, is the recipient of the 2013 Robert R. Ruffolo Career Achievement Award in Pharmacology. The award was established in recognition of the contributions made to drug discovery and development by Dr. Ruffolo, former President of Research and Development at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and is given to recognize the scientific achievements of scientists who are at the height of their careers and who have made significant contributions to any area of pharmacology. Dr. Wong has dedicated 30 years to drug discovery research and has co-discovered two breakthrough medicines in two different therapeutic areas.
After receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Wong began his pharmaceutical career as a Senior Research Pharmacologist in Hoechst-Roussell Pharmaceuticals. He joined the DuPont Company in 1983 to conduct research in hypertension and heart failure.
While at DuPont, Dr. Wong played an integral role in the discovery of receptor subtypes for angiotensin II, AT1 and AT2, the characterization of the biological functions of these receptor subtypes, and the identification of losartan as a selective AT1 receptor antagonist. Losartan is now marketed under the trade name Cozaar.
At Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Wong conducts research focused on developing new antithrombotic drugs. The research goal was to discover novel oral anticoagulants with improved safety, efficacy, and ease of use compared with warfarin, the standard of care. Dr. Wong’s work contributed to the development of apixaban to reduce the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. Recently, apixaban has been approved for this indication in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Canada.
Dr. Wong has published over 150 papers and book chapters. He was selected as a recipient of the American Chemical Society Award for Team Innovation in 1997 and the Ondetti & Cushman Award for Scientific Innovation from Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2011. He has been a longstanding member of ASPET and is an elected Fellow of the American Heart Association.
Dr. Wong was presented the Robert R. Ruffolo Career Achievement Award in Pharmacology on Saturday, April 20 at the Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics/Experimental Biology (EB) 2013 Meeting in Boston, MA. The ASPET Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony took place at the Boston Convention Center, Room 107AB from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. immediately followed by the Opening Reception.
Torald Sollmann Award in Pharmacology
William L. Dewey, Ph.D.
William L. Dewey, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Virginia Commonwealth University, is the recipient of the 2013 Torald Sollmann Award. The Award was established to commemorate the pioneering work in America of Dr. Torald Sollmann in the fields of pharmacological investigation and education. Dr. Dewey was selected for this award because of his outstanding and productive research career; his significant contributions to medicine utilizing education, research, and service; and his unparalleled service to ASPET and the discipline it represents.
Dr. Dewey earned his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. Upon completion of his postdoctoral work at the University of North Carolina, he was offered a position there as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology. In 1972, he was recruited to VCU, where he has served numerous positions including Vice Chair for Research, Dean of the School of Basic Health Sciences, Associate Provost, and Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. His distinguished research has pioneered approaches to understand mechanisms of substance abuse, including significant findings on the mechanism of action of opioid agonists and antagonists and the cannabinoids. His collaborative research helped discover that an increase in endogenous opioids occurred in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and led to the development of therapeutics for the treatment of SIDS and other diseases with centrally induced respiratory depression. In addition to his opioid work, his research has contributed significantly to pharmacology and our understanding of the mechanisms of tolerance to marihuana.
In addition to his excellent mentoring of dozens of doctoral and postdoctoral trainees, Dr. Dewey’s contributions to pharmacology education are nationally recognized. He is the founder, President and Treasurer of The Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a coalition of over 100 organizations which advocates for research, treatment, and prevention of substance abuse. He served as President of ASPET and tirelessly contributed to numerous other leadership roles within the society for many years, including chairing the Centennial Celebration Committee. He is a past President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and twice was elected to lead the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. As appointed Chairman of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Act Study Committee, he played a major role in the passage of the act and served as the first Vice President of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park.
Dr. Dewey was presented the Torald Sollmann Award on Saturday, April 20 at the Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics/Experimental Biology (EB) 2013 Meeting in Boston, MA. The ASPET Business Meeting/Awards Ceremony took place at the Boston Convention Center, Room 107AB from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. immediately followed by the Opening Reception.
Benedict R. Lucchesi Distinguished Lectureship in Cardiac Pharmacology
Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D.
Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Marriott Family Endowed Professor in Cardiovascular Diseases, and Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, is recipient of the 2013 Benedict Lucchesi Award in Cardiac Pharmacology. The biennial award was established by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics to honor Dr. Lucchesi’s lifelong scientific contributions to our better understanding and appreciation of pharmacological treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease and for his mentoring of many cardiovascular pharmacologists. The Awards Committee selected Dr. Terzic in recognition of his scientific leadership as an international leader in cardiac pharmacology.
A native of Paris (France), Dr. Terzic received medical and graduate education at the Universities of Belgrade, Paris, and Illinois (Chicago), followed by fellowship training at the French National Institutes of Health, Thomas Jefferson University, and the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Terzic would become the youngest faculty with dual academic rank of Professor in Medicine and Pharmacology at the Mayo Clinic and its inaugural director of Regenerative Medicine.
Dr. Terzic has made landmark contributions in our understanding of cardioprotective and cardioregenerative strategies. His early career contributions began with pioneering studies into the mechanisms by which ATP-sensitive potassium channels bring about cardioprotection. His laboratory leads the world in discoveries of the principles by which these ion channels mediate cardiac protection and how to therapeutically target them to prevent cardiac injury. Dr. Terzic’s more recent efforts in regenerative science have drawn international attention representing cutting-edge translational research. He has led efforts in the development of next generation cardiovascular regenerative therapies, including the first-in-man clinical trial using organ-specified stem cells for heart repair. His scientific success is matched by his outstanding mentorship and dedication to the scientific and medical community.
Dr. Andre Terzic had to cancel his presentation of the Benedict Lucchesi Lecture in Cardiac Pharmacology scheduled for Tuesday, April 23, from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. in Room 107AB of the Boston Convention Center, Boston, MA. Instead, Dr. Lucchesi, himself, gave a lecture on his pioneering research entitled, “Reperfusion injury: Can it be prevented?” Dr. Terzic will deliver the Benedict Lucchesi Lecture in Cardiac Pharmacology at the ASPET Annual Meeting at EB 2015 in Boston, MA.
ASPET Division for Drug Metabolism Early Career Achievement Award
Nina Isoherranen, Ph.D.
Dr. Nina Isoherranen, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Washington, is the recipient of the 2013 Drug Metabolism Early Career Achievement Award. The Award was established by ASPET’s Division for Drug Metabolism to recognize excellent original research by early career investigators in the area of drug metabolism and disposition.
Dr. Isoherranen received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees from the University of Helsinki. After earning her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, she continued her training as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, joining the Department of Pharmaceutics as an Acting Assistant Professor and soon after as Assistant Professor.
Dr. Isoherranen’s work has centered on characterizing the complex drug-drug interaction scenarios involving inhibitory metabolites and multiple-P450 inhibitors; understanding of the expression, activity, and physiological importance of CYP26 enzymes in retinoic acid metabolism; and the role of drug metabolizing enzymes during pregnancy and fetal development. She has established herself as a leader and pioneer in the prediction of complex drug-drug interactions.
Dr. Isoherranen is committed to the advancement of education and training of graduate students, professional Pharm.D. students, and post-doctoral fellows, as well as supporting the progress of the drug metabolism field. She has been honored with many awards, among them the Kaye Innovation Award from the Hebrew University, Young Investigator Award from the American Epilepsy Society, and the Distinguished Ph.D. Student prize from the Hebrew University.
Dr. Isoherranen’s lecture, titled “The biochemistry and clinical significance of CYP26 enzymes in regulating retinoic acid homeostasis,” was presented on Monday, April 22 from 2:00 – 2:50 p.m. in Room 108 of the Boston Convention Center.