The Scheele-award 2017 prize-winner is Professor Charles L Sawyers, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA.
In honor of the world-renowned Swedish chemist and pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, the Swedish Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences has since 1961 bestowed the Scheele Award on prominent scientists in the field of drug research or related disciplines. By tradition the award ceremony is accompanied by a symposium carrying the signature of the prize-winner. The award consists of a cash prize of 200 000 and a medal. In conjunction with the award ceremony in November 2017, a symposium with the theme related to the award winner’s research.
Scheele Award had the following motivation for the 2017 award: “For his outstanding contribution in life science. Professor Sawyers’s work has led to insights into the molecular mechanisms that cause tumor resistance to cancer drugs which have paved the way for the development of new, effective treatments have led to increased survival for many patients. ”
Professor Sawyers is one of the pioneers of modern medicines to treat cancer. His efforts to identify the mechanisms causing tumor resistance to cancer drugs is the basis for not less than three different drugs which have revolutionized the treatment of primary chronic myeolisk leukemia (CML) and prostate cancer. Through his research, Professor Sawyers was one involved in the first studies that showed that the compound Imatinib was active against CML. Imatinib/Gleevec was the first approved targeted medicine in oncology. Based on Imatinib was Professor Sawyers helped develop substances Dasatinib (against CML) and Enzalutamide (for prostate cancer). Today we know that several different types of cancer have mutations / changes with other kinases that are based on the same mechanisms which have led to the development of multi-kinase inhibitor targeting drugs in oncology. Through the research and development of drugs that have emerged thanks to his research, the development of new drug treatments for several types of cancer could be made which led to increased survival for many patients.
Professor Sawyers is one of the experts in President Obama’s commitment to cancer research, Cancer Moonshot, which was launched a year ago.
“It is a huge honor to be recognized for nearly 20 years of drug development into leukemia and prostate cancers. I am particularly pleased that the selection committee was willing to recognize the role that basic research plays in understanding how diseases work, as this lays the groundwork for developing the best way of treatment, “said Professor Sawyers.