Public Release: 

Frederick Alt, Ph.D., awarded 2015 Szent-Gyoergyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research

Prize honors history of fundamental discoveries toward our current understanding of cancer

Boston Children's Hospital

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IMAGE: This is Frederick Alt, Ph.D., Boston Children's Hospital. view more

Credit: Boston Children's Hospital

BOSTON (May 4, 2015) - Frederick Alt, PhD, director of the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital, has been honored with the 2015 Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research. Awarded by the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), the prize recognizes Alt's groundbreaking work on the genetic nature of cancer, research that laid the foundation for our modern understanding of cancer and for the current revolution in personalized, targeted cancer treatment.

Alt received the prize at a ceremony held April 29, 2015, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

Alt, who is also the Charles A. Janeway Professor of Pediatrics and a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, made the seminal discovery that genes in cancer cells can make multiple copies of themselves, overturning prior dogma that held the genome to be fixed and immutable. In addition, Alt systematically described basic mechanisms by which cells repair damage to their DNA, mechanisms that are themselves broken in cancer cells.

His discoveries revealed the genetic means by which cancer cells fuel their own spread and become resistant to treatment. They also put scientists and physicians on the path to targeted treatment of cancers based on the genetic mutations found in their cells.

"Dr. Alt has made numerous contributions to science, particularly in the fields of cancer, immunology and DNA repair," said Gary Fleisher, MD, physician-in-chief, pediatrician-in-chief and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. "We congratulate him on receiving this well-deserved honor."

"Dr. Alt's work has uncovered and explained some of the most foundational chemistry of life, and throughout his career he has always been focused on the implications for cancer," Sujuan Ba, PhD, co-chair of the 2015 Szent-Györgyi Prize Selection Committee and president of NFCR, said in a statement. "His vision and talent were instrumental in bringing cancer research into the modern era, and we are proud to present him with this award."

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The NFCR is a leading charity dedicated to funding cancer research and public education relating to cancer prevention, earlier diagnosis, better treatments and, ultimately, cures for cancer. The foundation established the Szent-Györgyi Prize in honor of its co-founder, Albert Szent-Györgyi, MD, PhD, recipient of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, to recognize outstanding researchers whose scientific achievements have expanded our understanding of cancer and whose vision has moved cancer research in new directions.

About Boston Children's Hospital

Boston Children's Hospital is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 1,100 scientists, including seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 members of the Institute of Medicine and 14 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Boston Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children's today is a 395-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care. Boston Children's is also the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

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