Bruce Chabner

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Dr. Bruce Chabner

"After more than 25 years at the National Cancer Institute and 13 years as the Director of the NCI's Division of Cancer Treatment, Dr. Bruce Chabner left the NIH in April 1995 to accept a position as Chief of the Massachusetts Cancer Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Chief Medical Officer at Dana Farber Cancer Insititute in Boston. Both institutions are under the umbrella of Harvard University, the oldest institution for higher education in the United States. In addition, he is the Editor & Chief of the journal, The Oncologist.

"Dr. Chabner graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1961, and from Harvard Medical School in 1965, followed by house staff training at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. He first came to the NCI as a Clinical Associate in 1967. In 1969 Dr. Chabner left the NCI to return to Yale University, where he entered the laboratory of Dr. Joe Bertino. Dr. Chabner and Dr. Bertino did pioneering clinical research in the use of leucovorin rescue following methotrexate. In 1971 he returned to the NCI as a Senior Investigator in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, where he continued research on methotrexate pharmacology allowing safe clinical use of methotrexate in conjunction with leucovorin and began studying mechanisms of resistance to methotrexate. This work led to an understanding of certain mechanisms of methotrexate resistance whereby cells lose the ability to modify the drug, and also directly led to the synthesis and clinical testing of drugs specifically targeting the unique enzymes that are inhibited by the modified antifolate drugs. In 1976 he was named the first Chief of the newly created Clinical Pharmacology Branch in the Clinical Oncology Program (COP). In 1980 Dr. Chabner was named Associate Director of COP and in 1982 Dr. Vince DeVita asked Bruce to succeed him as Director of the Division of Cancer Treatment.

"As Director of the Division of Cancer Treatment from 1982 through to 1995, Dr. Chabner became a true leader of a national and international research program whose mission was, simply, to improve the therapy for cancer. Perhaps most exemplary of the importance of his leadership was the story of Taxol®. The NCI embarked upon a major effort to rapidly increase the supply of paclitaxel to ensure expeditious clinical confirmation of the initial result, to test the drug on a variety of other cancers, to optimize its dosing and scheduling, and to assure wide availability of the drug. Within two years the activity of the drug in ovarian cancer was confirmed, and significant activities in breast cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer were found. Taxol® was approved for use, first in ovarian cancer, then in breast cancer. His leadership has been of continued success at Massachusetts General Hospital, involved in translational research and the discovery-development of new agents from natural production." [1]

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  1. Bruce Chabner, Drug Discovery Conference, accessed November 12, 2007.