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May 2004 Issue

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Jensen Named Wile Chair in Cancer Research

Published May 2004

Elwood V. Jensen, PhD, a pioneer in the field of endocrinology and cancer, has been appointed to the George J. and Elizabeth Wile Chair in Cancer Research.

Established to support cutting-edge cancer research at UC, the chair was funded in gratitude for the outstanding care Mr. Wile received while being treated at UC for leukemia. Mr. Wile and his wife, Elizabeth, donated over $2 million.

Dr. Jensen, visiting professor in UC Medical Center's Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy at the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, was one of three eminent scientists to win the first Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation prizes from the American Association for Cancer Research in 2002. These international awards were established to honor exceptional contributions to the understanding of cancer through basic research and its application to patients. In his 2000 book "Estrogens, Estrogen Receptor and Breast Cancer," author Fritz Parl, MD, PhD, professor of pathology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, featured Dr. Jensen as one of the eight greatest estrogen/breast cancer researchers in the last 100 years.

Dr. Jensen's identification of an intracellular receptor for estrogen completely revised earlier concepts of steroid hormone action in general, and suggested important implications for cancer. He purified the estrogen receptor and prepared specific antibodies to it, the first time this had been done for any steroid hormone receptor. Using these, other scientists were then able to clone the estrogen receptor protein. Dr. Jensen's research enabled physicians to distinguish the one-third of breast tumors that contain high estrogen receptor levels—and therefore respond to tamoxifen or other anti-estrogen therapy - from those that are estrogen receptor negative. Analysis of a tumor biopsy specimen can now spare receptor-negative patients from hormonal treatment, which will not benefit them. Thus, the receptor-negative patients can begin chemotherapy immediately, before the cancer spreads further.

"It's certainly an honor to have Dr. Jensen at our institution and as part of our department," said Peter Stambrook, PhD, professor and chairman of the UC Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy. "He sets a high standard for the future holders of the Wile Chair in Cancer Research."

In 2003, Dr. Jensen was the first person to receive the John and Gladys Strauss Chair in Cancer Research. He has also received four honorary degrees and 25 scientific prizes, and in 1974 he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences

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