In today’s CRUZAMENTO Podcast, André Correia e Daniel Guedelha talked with Ron DePinho who delves into his contributions to cancer research and innovation, emphasizing the transformative potential of biotechnology in this critical field. His work is dedicated to advancing our understanding of cancer biology, enabling the development of more precise diagnostic tools and targeted therapies. Through his efforts, he aims to revolutionize the way we approach cancer treatment, with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes and quality of life. Additionally, Ron de Pinho actively engages in educating influential figures such as the President of the United States and the Pope, advocating for policies that support the advancement of biotechnology in healthcare and sustainability. His dedication to both research and advocacy solidifies his position as a leading figure in the biotech industry.
Ronald A. DePinho, M.D. is currently past president and distinguished university professor of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. His research has focused on the fundamental mechanisms driving cancer and aging and the clinical application of such knowledge to prevent and treat disease.
Dr. DePinho studied biology at Fordham University, where he graduated class salutatorian, and received his M.D. degree with distinction in microbiology and immunology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He performed his residency and postdoctoral training at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.
Dr. DePinho’s independent career began at Einstein as the Feinberg Senior Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research and an ACS Research Professor. He then joined the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School where he was the founding Director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science and a Professor of Medicine and Genetics at Harvard. As president of MD Anderson, Dr. DePinho conceived and launched the Moon Shots Program, a goal-oriented comprehensive effort designed to accelerate declines in cancer incidence and mortality. This initiative has yielded practice-changing advances in cancer and inspired the national cancer moonshot under President Biden. He also elevated MD Anderson’s research and graduate programs, recruited many world class faculty including National Academy Members and its first Nobel Prize. To improve cancer care beyond MD Anderson, he launched and assembled a network of cancer institutions in 24 countries, reaching one-third of the human population.
As a researcher, he has published over 400 articles, books and chapters that have advanced our understanding of cancer, aging and degenerative disorders which have led to clinical advances including new cancer drugs and diagnostics. His most notable discoveries include elucidation of the core molecular pathway for aging, determination of the basis for the intimate link between advancing age and increased epithelial cancer incidence, establishment of the central role of telomeres in cancer genome instability, discovery of Sin3 and linkage of sequence specific transcription factors and chromatin regulators, demonstration that aging itself can be reversed which led to new therapeutic strategies for aging and age-related diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease. To translate these basic discoveries, he founded 9 private and publicly traded biotechnology companies and served as an advisor or director for biotech and large biopharma companies focused on oncology. His public service includes advisory and directorship roles for AACR and the NIH, as well as the Vatican and several countries. He is chairman and co-founder a non-profit, OPA Health (previously, Unite to Prevent Cancer) whose mission is disease prevention in underserved communities. As an advocate, he was a key instigator in the bipartisan bill raising the age of tobacco purchase to 21 (T21) and the bipartisan Cures Act. He is Vice Chair of the BOD for Act For NIH, a non-profit advocacy organization to garner bipartisan support for the NIH resulting in an additional $14.9B to the base budget and restoring the NIH budget following years of inflationary decline.
For his fundamental contributions to cancer and aging and to healthcare, he has been recognized with numerous honors and awards. He was named one of the 100 most influential healthcare leaders, according to Modern Healthcare. His honors include the Melini Award for Biomedical Excellence, the American Society for Clinical Investigation Award, the Biomedicum Helsinki Medal, Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize, AACR Clowes Award, American-Italian Foundation Prize, among others. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Science, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association of the Advancement of Science and the American Association of Cancer Research. He received Fordham University’s McMahon Memorial Award for Distinguished Public Service, honorary degrees from Harvard University and Hofstra University, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. For his work to improve the health of Portugal’s people, Dr. DePinho was recognized by its president with the highest commendation, the Order of Saint James of the Sword.
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