OHSU's cancer doctor Druker named Portland First Citizen
April 21, 2010, 3:46PMDr. Brian Druker, a leading cancer scientist who heads Oregon Health & Science University's Knight Cancer Institute, was given the Portland First Citizen Award at a banquet Wednesday.
"I am incredibly honored to receive this recognition in my own community," Druker said.
Druker is one of the leading figures in targeted cancer therapy, the effort to find drugs that more specifically attack the biological flaws driving cancers while limiting damage to other, healthy cells.
He led the main human trials that proved the effectiveness of one such drug, Gleevec, which has dramatically improved the life of people with a blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML. Before Gleevec was approved for sale in 2001, close to a third of CML patients died within five years of diagnosis. Now, that death rate is closer to one in 10, and many die from causes unrelated to cancer. Gleevec is also being used against several other cancers.
Druker got his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of California at San Diego. He came to OHSU in 1993 from a research job at Harvard, and was named director of the school's Knight Cancer Institute in 2007.
The First Citizen Award is one of many recognitions for the Minnesota native. Last year, Druker and two other scientists won prestigious medical science prizes from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation for research that, the group said, "provided a new paradigm for cancer therapy." He's previously received a lifetime-achievement award from the U.S. Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
The Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors gives the First Citizen Award each year "to honor civic achievements and business leadership within the community." Sponsors of the award banquet include The Oregonian andRegional Multiple Listing Service, a real estate database.