Public Release: 

Philip Low receives AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research

American Association for Cancer Research

PHILADELPHIA -- The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will recognize Philip S. Low, PhD, with the ninth annual AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015, to be held in Philadelphia, April 18-22.

Low is the Ralph C. Corley distinguished professor of chemistry and director of the Center for Drug Discovery at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is also a founder and chief science officer of two biopharmaceutical companies, Endocyte, Inc. and On Target Laboratories LLC.

He will present his award lecture, "Ligand-targeted Imaging and Therapeutic Agents for Cancer," Tuesday, April 21, 3 p.m. ET, in the Terrace Ballroom II/III of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The AACR and its Chemistry in Cancer Research Working Group established the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research in 2007 to recognize the importance of chemistry to advancements in cancer research. The award is given for outstanding, novel, and significant chemistry research, which has led to important contributions to the fields of basic cancer research, translational cancer research, cancer diagnosis, the prevention of cancer, or the treatment of patients with cancer.

Low is being recognized for his pioneering development of low molecular weight ligands to deliver attached therapeutic and imaging agents selectively into pathologic cells such as cancer cells. This targeted therapeutic approach improves potency and reduces toxicity. Currently, there are nine low molecular weight ligand-targeted drugs being tested in cancer clinical trials. One of these drugs uses folic acid to target the highly toxic chemotherapeutic agent desacetylvinblastine hydrazide to cancer cells bearing the folate receptor, and it has shown great promise in clinical trials as a potential treatment for folate receptor-positive non-small cell lung cancers. The technology also has the potential to motivate fundamental changes in surgery. In 2011, the first fluorescence-guided surgery was performed on an ovarian cancer patient using the technology invented by Low: Surgeons were able to see clusters of cancer cells as small as one-tenth of a millimeter, as opposed to the average minimal cluster size of 2 millimeters in diameter using the current visual and tactile detection.

"We have seen considerable interest in using our tumor-targeted fluorescent dyes for fluorescence-guided surgery of cancers, with surgeons at Leiden University, Mayo Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, Moffitt Cancer Center, and UC Irvine all involved in exploring new applications of the technology," said Low. "Applications are emerging in localization of occult disease, assessment of lymph node metastases, minimization of positive margins, and presurgical endoscopic staging of cancer patients."

Low's research on low molecular weight ligand-targeted therapeutic and imaging agents has yielded more than 40 U.S. patents or patents pending.

His achievements have been recognized by numerous awards throughout his career, including the Roland T. Lakey Award, the Mathias P. Mertes Award, the Morrill Award, the American Chemical Society's Award for Cancer Research (George and Christine Sosnovsky Award), the Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year Award, and Brigham Young University's Distinguished Alumnus Award. He has also been elected to the National Academy of Inventors.

In addition to the AACR, Low is a member of numerous professional societies, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and the American Society of Hematology. He also serves as president of the Folate Receptor Society, as chair of multiple scientific conferences, and on the editorial boards of several journals.

Low received his doctorate from the University of California, San Diego and joined Purdue's faculty in 1976, following a year of postdoctoral work at the University of Massachusetts.

The AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research is generously supported by Ash Stevens, Inc.


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About the American Association for Cancer Research

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 35,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in 101 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 25 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with over 18,500 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit

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