Yale cancer researcher Joseph “Yossi” Schlessinger, PhD, has been named to the 2016 Class of Fellows of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Academy. Schlessinger, the William H. Prusoff Professor of Pharmacology; chair of pharmacology in Yale School of Medicine; and founding director of Yale Cancer Biology Institute, is one of 11 prominent scientists inducted into the AACR Academy this year.
The AACR Academy recognizes distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. All Fellows are nominated and elected through a rigorous peer-review process conducted by existing Fellows of the AACR Academy and ratified by the AACR Executive Committee. Only individuals whose work has had a significant and lasting impact on the field are eligible for election as AACR Fellows.
In 2010, Schlessinger received the AACR International Award for Cancer.
Schlessinger is renowned for his work on the transmembrane receptors that drive various forms of cancer and the development of drug therapies to combat them. He discovered a mechanism, known as receptor dimerization that explains how receptor tyrosine kinases are activated when a molecule binds at the cell surface. He also identified key molecules and mechanisms that relay signals from outside the cell, through the cell membrane, to the interior of the cell. This principle has proven to be fundamental to activation of the majority of surface receptors and for information flow from the cell surface into intracellular compartments.
Schlessinger has cofounded three biotechnology companies – Sugen (now owned by Pfizer), Plexxikon (now owned by Daiichi-Sankyo), and Kolltan (New Haven). His insights have resulted in drugs that are having a major impact on the lives of cancer patients. Schlessinger sits on the editorial boards of leading scientific journals such as EMBO Journal, Cell, Molecular Cell, and Molecular Biology of the Cell. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the European Molecular Biology Organization. In 2001, ISI Highly Cited listed him among the 30 most cited scientists of the 1990s; currently he has 108,000 citations.
In 2015, Schlessinger was a co-recipient of the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine from the Madrid-based BBVA Foundation.
Other AACR Academy Fellows from Yale include Vincent DeVita, M.D the Amy and Joseph Perella Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); professor of epidemiology; and former director of Yale Cancer Center.