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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 06/11/02
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Award-Winning Cancer Researcher Jensen is at UC

Cincinnati--Elwood V. Jensen, PhD, visiting professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Vontz Center for Molecular Studies at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Medical Center, is one of three eminent scientists to win the inaugural Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation prizes of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). These international awards were recently established to promote and reward exceptional contributions to the understanding of cancer through basic research and its application to patients. These distinguished scientific prizes, each of which includes an unrestricted cash award of $200,000, were presented recently at the annual meeting of the AACR in San Francisco. These new awards are given to bring heightened public attention to landmark achievements in the continuing effort to prevent and cure cancer.

The Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research, which recognizes novel laboratory discoveries and their application to patients, was shared by Dr. Jensen and V. Craig Jordan, PhD, of Northwestern University for their studies of estrogenic hormones and breast cancer that together represent a major advance in the understanding and control of this malignancy.

Dr. Jensen is a pioneer in the field of endocrinology and cancer. His identification of an intracellular receptor for estrogens, and subsequent studies refuting the then prevailing view of their action mechanism, completely revised concepts of the action of all types of steroid hormones with important implications for cancer. He purified the estrogen receptor and prepared specific antibodies to it (the first for any steroid hormone receptor), which made possible the cloning by others of the estrogen receptor protein. His most important contribution to cancer research is his demonstration that human breast tumors with low or no estrogen receptors do not respond to hormonal manipulation, such as removal of the ovaries or adrenal glands, or more recently, treatment with antiestrogenic agents such as tamoxifen.

Jensen's and Jordan's research findings about tamoxifen and other hormonal therapy save about two-thirds of breast cancer patients from undergoing ineffective treatment. A biopsy of the tumor spares estrogen-receptor-negative patients, whose tumors are not dependent on estrogen, from receiving hormonal treatments that will not help them. This information also allows those same patients to receive the more aggressive chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments sooner, before the cancer spreads.

Dr. Jensen received his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1944. He spent a year as a Guggenheim postdoctoral fellow at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, where he was introduced to steroid hormones. In 1947 he joined the medical faculty at the University of Chicago where he remained until retirement in 1990. During this time he held various academic appointments and served as director of the Ben May Laboratory for Cancer Research, and of the Biomedical Center for Population Research. While on leave of absence from the University of Chicago, he served for five years as Research Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research based in Zurich. After retirement, among other appointments, he was the Alexander von Humboldt Visiting Professor at the University of Hamburg and the Nobel Visiting Professor at the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden.

In 2002, he came to the University of Cincinnati to initiate a collaborative research project with Sohaib Khan, PhD, professor, cell biology, at the UC College of Medicine, to obtain additional evidence for their new model for antiestrogen action and to apply this concept for better characterization of human breast cancers. The 2002 Biomedical and Health Research book by Fritz Parl, entitled Estrogens, Estrogen Receptor and Breast Cancer, named Jensen and Jordan two of the eight greatest estrogen receptor/breast cancer researchers in the last 100 years.

The recipients of the Landon Prizes recently presented scientific lectures describing their work to an audience of 8,000 scientists at the AACR meeting in San Francisco. "These new awards," according to Dr. Jensen, "will be an important stimulus for new basic discoveries of medical relevance and will expedite the use of this knowledge for the benefit of the cancer patient," thus fulfilling the wishes of the late Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon, after whom the Prizes are named. "It certainly is an honor to have Dr. Jensen at our institution and as part of our department," said Peter Stambrook, PhD, chairman of the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy at the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, UC Medical Center.

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