University Appoints Top Cancer Researchers

Posted: March 9, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Patty Snellings

Following last week’s announcement of the appointment of Matthew Kluger as the new vice president for research, George Mason continues its commitment to become a nationally acclaimed research institution by naming two of the world’s leading scientists in molecular medicine to its faculty. Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin III, codirectors of the National Cancer Institute/Food and Drug Administration Clinical Proteomics Program, join the university this spring.

Liotta and Petricoin began their proteomics collaboration in 1997, which led to the formation of the first Interagency Agreement between NCI and FDA to develop and test technologies for proteomic analysis—the study of protein activity in cells—of cancer and other diseases. Their renowned collaboration has produced more than 100 publications and numerous proteomic processes to develop new methods for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Combining their clinical and research expertise, they invented a new type of protein microarray technology to simultaneously measure multiple protein pathways from a biopsy specimen. Understanding the activity of protein pathways may ultimately lead to personalized medical treatment and significantly impact public health.

In addition to their invention and development of new types of protein microarray technologies, they recently have made several seminal discoveries for biomarker-based research that may assist in the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.

“These appointments add a new dimension to George Mason’s research agenda and bring new opportunities to expand our activities,” says President Alan Merten. “We are excited that Drs. Liotta and Petricoin are joining us in our mission to build a research program of national prominence.”

Liotta and Petricoin bring their experience in molecular medicine and proteomics to a burgeoning Life Sciences division of the College of Arts and Sciences, located at the Prince William Campus. Life Sciences priorities include biomedical genomics research in cancer, obesity, and liver diseases; HIV research; and medical research in biodefense focusing on immune system enhancement and the development of treatments for diseases caused by biological weapons. Its research programs are strengthened by collaborative relationships with education, industry, and government partners.

Chief of the Laboratory of Pathology at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research since 1982, Liotta also serves as chief of the center’s Tumor Invasion and Metastases section and chairs the National Institutes of Health Radiation Safety Committee. He earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve Medical School and is licensed to practice medicine in the state of Maryland. Liotta also holds a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University. His appointment is effective May 15.

Petricoin joined the FDA in 1993, following a three-year postgraduate fellowship with the agency. He currently is senior investigator in the Office of Cell Tissue and Gene Therapies in the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Petricoin holds a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Maryland at College Park. He begins his appointment April 1.

Citing its Northern Virginia location and an opportunity to become part of its unique research collaboration with Inova Health System as key attracters to George Mason, Liotta and Petricoin say they are optimistic about their vision for molecular medicine and the opportunity to add to the scientific and educational composition of the university.

“George Mason’s vision to accelerate the impact that proteomics and nanotechnology can have on patient care is so exciting to us,” Petricoin says. “The expanding investment into applied research and its unique and powerful relationship with Inova are the catalysts for realizing this promise.”

Liotta agrees that proteomics will be a major driver for advancing molecular medicine. “Patient-tailored medicine is the future of clinical practice, and we feel that George Mason is in a unique position to be a leader in this new era,” he says. “We are thrilled to be joining George Mason and to benefit from the broad expertise of the faculty as we pursue research to create new diagnostic and treatment approaches for human diseases.”

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