April 24, 2009

Guengerich lands cancer research award

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F. Peter (Fred) Guengerich, Ph.D.

Guengerich lands cancer research award

F. Peter (Fred) Guengerich, Ph.D., has received the 2009 award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

The award, which recognizes the importance of chemistry to advancements in cancer research, was presented during the society's annual meeting in Denver last week.

Guengerich was honored for several of his chemical studies, including how the human cytochrome P450 enzymes convert cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens) into compounds that mutate genes or otherwise alter DNA. The work has been important for understanding the mechanisms underlying cancer, as well as suggesting ways to prevent the disease.

“This award means a lot to me, and I am awed to be in the company of the previous winners,” said Guengerich, the Harry Pearson Broquist Professor of Biochemistry and director of the Center in Molecular Toxicology at Vanderbilt.

“I have been fascinated by chemistry since I was a boy and have never lost the thrill of applying my knowledge of chemistry to important biological problems, including cancer.”

In addition to defining the roles of the P450 enzymes in activating carcinogens, Guengerich has investigated how carcinogens interact with DNA to form adducts and how these adducts produce mutations. This work has helped define the mechanisms of several classes of carcinogens, including the arylamines, vinyl halides and dihaloalkanes.

Guengerich has published more than 570 original research articles and was ranked first in the world in total citations in drug metabolism research through 2006. He has also received research awards from the American Society for Pharmacology and

Experimental Therapeutics, the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics, the American College of Toxicology and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Despite all the accolades, his motivation and interest in cancer research are not solely academic.

“My wife Cheryl is a healthy cancer survivor,” he said. “And I feel a personal link to progress in the field of cancer research.”