Dennis Slamon's work exemplifies translational research of the highest order. He has taken a basic research finding, HER2/neu oncogenes, and developed a better understanding of how this marker serves as a surrogate for prognosis, a therapeutic target, and a predictive test for therapeutic outcome. His work has saved the lives of thousands of women. Herceptin has provided a paradigm shift in the field of cancer therapy by showing that drugs can be developed against defects present in specific cancers.
Born in Pennsylvania, Dr Slamon obtained his B.A at Washington & Jefferson College, and his M.D. from the University of Chicago (1975). He received his PhD in cell biology the same year (1975). He has spent his whole career at the UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, first as a Fellow in the Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, (1979-81), Associate Chief (1989-1991), and as full Professor (1993). In 1994 he became Executive Vice-Chair for Research.
He is the recipient of many honours and awards, including Outstanding Young Investigator Award (Western Society of Clinical Investigation, 1988), the University of California, San Diego/Salk Translational Award (2000), the Medal of Honour for Clinical Research (American Cancer Society 2004), the David A Karnofsky Memorial Award (American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2006), and the European Institute of Oncology Breast Cancer Award (Milan, Italy 2006).