UC Davis alumnus H. Michael Shepard last Friday (Sept. 20) received one of the 2019 Lasker Awards, widely considered America’s top biomedical research prizes.
He and two colleagues, Dennis J. Slamon and Axel Ullrich, shared the Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award and a $250,000 honorarium for their groundbreaking development of the drug Herceptin, a lifesaving therapy for women with HER2-positive breast cancer. The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation honored the trio at a ceremony in New York City.
Shepard received an undergraduate degree in zoology (cellular and developmental biology) at UC Davis in 1973, then earned a Ph.D. in cellular and developmental biology and genetics at Indiana University Bloomington in 1980
Shepard (now at BetterOutcomes4Cancer) and Ullrich (now at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry) conducted their Herceptin investigations at Genentech, while Slamon did his at UCLA, where he continues to work as a physician and scientist.
They demonstrated that monoclonal antibodies — proteins that bind to specific invader organisms or abnormal (cancerous) cells — were a viable and effective strategy to treat solid tumors, opening a new path to develop and deploy antibodies to treat cancer. Clinical results showed that Herceptin, when coupled with chemotherapy, stalled HER2-positive breast cancer progression and extended survival compared with chemotherapy alone.
HER2-positive breast cancer is an aggressive type of breast cancer characterized by multiple copies of the gene coding for the protein HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2). More than 50,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with this type of breast cancer every year.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Herceptin in 1998. According to the Lasker Foundation, more than 2.3 million women have been treated with the drug to date.
Travel office roadshows
UC’s Central Travel Office is bringing its fall roadshow to UC Davis next week, and the campus accounts payable team will join in to share best practices for booking via AggieTravel.
The Central Travel Office, which manages UC’s agreements with airlines, hotels, car rental companies and travel agencies, will highlight the many perks offered by UC’s suppliers, including priority boarding, preferred seating, status match and upgrade opportunities. The UC Davis accounts payable team will highlight UC travel policies and take questions.
Three sessions are scheduled for Monday (Sept. 30):
- 9-10:30 a.m. — 2222 Education Building, Sacramento campus. Register here.
- 1-2:30 p.m. — 136 Hoagland Hall, Davis campus. Register here (click on “Select a Time.”)
- 3-4:30 p.m. — 136 Hoagland Hall. Register here (click on “Select a Time.”)
The Central Travel Office is taking its roadshow to all the campuses, and people who attend will be entered in a contest to win two United Airlines tickets for travel within the United States (terms and conditions are posted online).
2 graduate degrees reclassified
The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics announced that its Master of Science and Ph.D. are now classified as science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, degrees, joining the undergraduate major in managerial economics.
“This occurred through changing the program’s Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code with the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics to reflect the rigor of the graduate degrees in quantitative methods,” the department said in a Sept. 16 post.
This new STEM designation, besides supporting the already highly competitive graduate program, may help students studying in the United States on F-1 visas, according to the post.