Dr. Susan B. Horwitz, Rose Falkenstein Professor of Cancer Research and co-Chair of Molecular Pharmacology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, gave the 19th Annual Avery Steelman Lecture March 20, 2012. The title of her seminar talk was "Taxol, Tubulin and Tumors." Dr. Horwitz was presented with a plaque to commemorate her lectureship.
"Dr. Horwitz has had a long time interest in small molecules and particularly natural products that had anti-tumor activity. Thus, as an early investigator, she was asked by the NCI to evaluate the mechanism of action of a natural product, Taxol, that displayed anti-tumor activity. As she wrote in a personal reflection on the development of taxol, she thought they would work on the product for a month or so to see if it was interesting. As it turned out, Dr. Horwitz uncovered that Taxol was a fascinating agent that displayed a new mechanism of action of inhibiting microtubule dynamics and cell division. She then took on understanding the mechanisms of resistance to paclitaxel as well as the characterization of novel microtubule polyermizing agents. Her pioneering work was essential throughout the at-times tumultuous development of taxol as a clinical agent."
"Dr. Horwtiz’s work on taxol has touched the lives of thousands of individuals worldwide by extending the lives of cancer patients that receive taxol as a component of first-line chemotherapy to treat breast, lung and ovarian cancer. For her pioneering discoveries, Dr. Horwitz has of course received numerous honors. Dr. Horwitz is a member American Academy of Arts and Science, a fellow of the National Foundation for cancer research, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. Last year, she was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the American Association for Cancer Research. Importantly, Dr. Horwitz has also taken on a number of leadership roles as both a president of the AACR and a key advisor on the NCI’d drug screening and development system." (~from Dr. Angelique Whitehurst's introduction of Dr. Horwitz at the lecture)
Photo above: Drs. Angelique Whitehurst and Susan B. Horwitz. Click for enlargement.
This prestigious Lectureship was established in 1992 by Dr. Sanford Steelman (the former director of international clinical pharmacology and endocrine research at Merck) to honor his father, Avery, who wished to attend medical school but did not have the opportunity to complete his education.
Dr. Sanford Steelman received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and physiology from UNC in 1949. Throughout his career, Dr. Steelman published extensively authoring over 100 scientific publications and obtained 5 patents – many related to the isolation and characterization of critical hormones such as human growth hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. Notably in 1988, Dr. Steelman has been recognized as one of 200 people, living or dead, who had made a major contribution to reproductive and endocrine medicine. Dr Steelman was a close associate of Paul Munson, the founding chair of UNC Pharmacology. Dr. Steelman attended all of the lectures during the early years of the lectureship.
The Steelman lecturers have all been highly distinguished scientists including three Nobel laureates and many members of the National Academy. It has been customary to invite a distinguished scientist working in the broad area of endocrinology.