Public Release: 

Garth Powis named as NAI Fellow

Prestigious designation awarded for 'prolific spirit of innovation'

Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

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Credit: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

La Jolla, Calif., Dec. 13, 2016 - Garth Powis, professor and director of Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute's (SBP) NCI-designated Cancer Center, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

Powis is the Jeanne and Gary Herberger Leadership Chair in Cancer Research at the Institute's Cancer Research Center in La Jolla, CA. Previously he was Professor and Chair, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Powis received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Pharmacology from the University of Birmingham, and his D.Phil. in Biochemistry and Pharmacology from Oxford University in the U.K. Powis has been a pioneer in the discovery and translation of novel cancer targets and their small molecule inhibitors as potential cancer therapies. His current research focuses on mechanisms that solid tumors use to adapt and survive in hypoxic environments, escape cell death, form new blood vessels and metastasize.

Powis is the author of over 350 peer-reviewed publications and 15 patents, supporting first in class anti-cancer agents, three of which are in clinical trials. They include: PX-12, a thioredoxin inhibitor; PX-866, a phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase inhibitor; and PX-478, an inhibitor of hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). He is co-founder of two start-up companies, Prolx Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Biomira (now Cascadia), and Phusis Therapeutics.

"Dr. Powis exemplifies the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of faculty and researchers at SBP," said Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., president of SBP. "His contributions to cancer research have changed the way cancer treatment has evolved, from systemic chemotherapy to personalized molecularly targeted therapy. On behalf of SBP, I would like to congratulate Dr. Powis for the distinguished honor of being elected as an NAI Fellow."

The 175 distinguished academic inventors named today bring the total number of NAI Fellows to 757, representing 229 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. The 2016 Fellows are named inventors on 5,437 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 26,000. These academic luminaries have made a significant impact on the economy through innovative discoveries, creating startup companies, and enhancing the culture of academic invention.

Included among all NAI Fellows are more than 94 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes; 376 members of the three branches of the National Academy of Sciences; 28 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame; 45 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science; 28 Nobel Laureates, 215 AAAS Fellows; 132 IEEE Fellows; and 116 Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, among other awards and distinctions.

Powis will be inducted on April 6, 2017, as part of the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston, MA. U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Andrew H. Hirshfeld will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony. In honor of their outstanding accomplishments, Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal, and rosette pin.

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About SBP

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) is an independent nonprofit medical research organization that conducts world-class, collaborative, biological research and translates its discoveries for the benefit of patients. SBP focuses its research on cancer, immunity, neurodegeneration, metabolic disorders and rare children's diseases. The Institute invests in talent, technology and partnerships to accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries that will have the greatest impact on patients. Recognized for its world-class NCI-designated Cancer Center and the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, SBP employs about 1,100 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at SBPdiscovery.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/SBPdiscovery and on Twitter @SBPdiscovery.

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