March 27, 2009

Award honors Arteaga’s breast cancer research

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Carlos Arteaga, M.D., has been honored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology for his contributions to breast cancer research. (photo by Joe Howell)

Award honors Arteaga’s breast cancer research

Carlos Arteaga, M.D., professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology, is the recipient of the 2009 Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The award is named for Italian clinical investigator Gianni Bonadonna, M.D., who is credited for first reporting the use of adjuvant chemotherapy to treat micrometastatic disease in patients with operable breast cancer. The award is given to oncologists who have made outstanding contributions in the field of breast cancer research.

“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from my colleagues,” said Arteaga. “I have been fortunate to learn from other outstanding investigators and to work alongside a most talented team at Vanderbilt-Ingram.”

For nearly 20 years, Arteaga, currently director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, has been advancing research in oncology through his discoveries in the pathogenesis and molecular therapeutics of breast cancer.

“Carlos Arteaga is an exceptional cancer investigator. Unquestionably, he is one of our most creative and productive research leaders,” said David Johnson, M.D., deputy director of Vanderbilt-Ingram and former president of ASCO. “He has an uncanny ability to identify and focus on the factors that are crucially important to understanding the biology of breast cancer.”

Arteaga received his M.D. at the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador. He trained in Internal Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, and then conducted his Oncology Fellowship at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio. At this institution, in the laboratory of C. Kent Osborne, M.D., Arteaga initiated his work on the study of growth factor receptors and oncogenes, such as HER2, IGF-I receptor, and TGF-betas in the pathogenesis of breast cancer.

His bibliography includes about 200 papers, which cumulatively demonstrate that blocking these oncogenic pathways inhibits the growth of human breast cancer. His work helped pave the way for development of numerous targeted drugs such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), cetuximab (Erbitux) and erlotinib (Tarceva), as well as other combinations currently in development.

Arteaga joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1989 and is now director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Breast Cancer.

He and his group are investigating how some molecule-targeted anti-cancer drugs work, why some tumors become resistant to these drugs and how to better select patients who will respond to these novel agents and combinations.

“We are interested in this issue of prediction of the outcome of molecular therapeutics,” said Arteaga. “Overall, we want to identify and validate biomarkers in tumors that will predict the outcome of therapy, so we can better select patients for investigational trials and use these biomarkers later as part of standards of care.”

Arteaga's award will be announced during the 2009 Annual Meeting of ASCO, May 29-June 2, in Orlando, Fla. He will be presented with the award and deliver the Bonadonna Lecture at the ASCO Breast Cancer Symposium, Oct. 8-10, in San Francisco.