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Professor Ashok Venkitaraman, Director of the MRC Cancer Unit named as the winner of the 2017 Basser Global Prize.

last modified Dec 01, 2017 01:10 PM

Professor Ashok Venkitaraman has been awarded the 2017 Basser Global Prize from the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, in recognition of his contributions to the field of research into the genetics of breast cancer, particularly for his laboratories work in explaining how mutations in the breast cancer gene, BRCA2, predispose to cancer and how knowledge of its critical role in genome repair can be exploited to devise approaches for early intervention in cancers.

Each year the award recognizes a leading scientist who has conceptually advanced breast cancer gene, BRCA1/2-related research that has led to improvements in clinical care. Individuals with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have an exceptionally high risk of breast or ovarian cancer. Currently, the most effective preventive strategy is surgical removal of the breasts and/or ovaries.

 “It is our privilege to recognize Dr. Venkitaraman for his inspiring accomplishments, which have significantly contributed to our understanding of how cancer is suppressed by genes such as BRCA2,” said Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA and the Basser Professor of Medicine in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center.

“His pioneering work has helped clarify the basic mechanisms that govern genome repair, replication, and segregation during cell division, as well as their roles in cancer formation and treatment.  This knowledge is making a difference for patients with BRCA1/2 mutations by giving them better options for targeted therapies and improved quality of life.”

The award presentation will be accompanied by Ashok’s keynote address at the annual Basser Center for BRCA Scientific Symposium on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. The Basser Global Prize provides $100,000 in unrestricted support of the winner's BRCA1/2-related research efforts, a Basser trophy, and $10,000 cash prize, which will be awarded at the symposium.

“It is an honour to be recognized in this way by the Basser Center, which is at the forefront of efforts to improve the outcome of patients who bear BRCA1/2 mutations,” Ashok has said. “The Basser Global Prize will greatly enhance my laboratory’s ability to pursue promising new research avenues.”

The Basser Center was established in 2012 through a $25 million gift from Penn alumni Mindy and Jon Gray in memory of Mindy Gray’s sister Faith Basser, who died of ovarian cancer at age 44. The Basser Global Prize was established and subsequently endowed by Shari Basser Potter and Leonard Potter.