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Prestigious Awards Presented at Opening of Precision Medicine World Conference 2017

This year’s Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) in California’s Silicon Valley (January 23-25) ( kicked off with a Sunday evening awards presentation that recognized the major contributions of four prominent scientists. Pioneer Awards were presented to James Allison, Ph.D., Chair of Immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for his seminal work in the areas of immunology and immunotherapy for cancer, and to Stephen Quake, Ph.D., Professor of Engineering, at Stanford University for his work in biological measurement and in genomics. Luminary Awards were presented to Edward Chang, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of California-San Francisco, for his work in developing advanced neurophysiologic brain mapping methods of both speech and motor circuits to enable safer neurosurgery techniques, and to Jennifer Doudna (photo), Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California-Berkeley for her work in launching the revolutionary field of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. Dr. Allison was one of the first to identify the T-cell receptor and he showed that the CD28 molecule acts as the T-cell’s gas pedal, and in 1995 he identified the T-cell’s brakes. This work led to the development of the antibody drug ipilimumab that targets CTL-4, blocking the T-cell brakes and unleashing a strong immune response that has proven effective in cancer therapy. Dr. Allison’s body of work underpins the tremendous recent advances in immunotherapy for cancer. Dr. Quake has pioneered innovative approaches to biological measurement, including the invention of microfluidic large-scale integration, the biological equivalent of the integrated circuit, which has enabled large-scale automation of biology. He has developed applications of microfluidics in areas as diverse as structural biology, drug discovery, and molecular affinity measurements. In addition, he has generated the first single-molecule human genome sequence, developed techniques to perform single cell gene expression and genome sequencing, non-invasive prenatal diagnostics, prenatal genome sequencing, non-invasive tests for heart transpant rejection, and approaches to sequence the immune system.

Dr. Chang’s revolutionary research is leading to the development of state-of-the-art biomedical devices to restore function for patients with neurological disabilities. His novel approaches reveal new information about fundamental pathophysiological processes underlying neurological disease from which patients and basic scientists benefit.

Dr. Doudna helped launch an ongoing revolution in the fields of molecular genetics and genomics with the monumental discovery of CRISP-Cas9. This simple-to-use technique can alter the DNA of any organism using RNA-programmed DNA cleavage, much as a film editor cuts a piece of film and splices in new frames. CRISPR-Cas9 technology is being used in laboratories around the world to advance biological research and this fundamental technology promises to lead to new therapeutics for treating and curing human disease. Dr. Doudna has devoted her career to understanding the function of catalytic and other non-protein-coding RNAs. Discovery of the the powerful CRISPR-Cas9 system came during the fundamental research investigation of how bacteria protect themselves from viruses.

Upcoming BioQuick News stories will report on additional highlights of the PMWC 2017 meeting that was attended by 1,300 biotech professional from around the world and ended up on Wednesday, January 25.

[Precision Medicine World Conference 2017]