UCLA Oncologist Dennis Slamon Receives Szent-Györgyi Prize

Dr. Dennis Slamon, a world-renowned oncologist and scientist whose groundbreaking research has transformed the treatment of breast cancer, has been awarded the 2024 Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research from the National Foundation for Cancer Research.

The prize has been awarded annually since 2006 to honor an outstanding scientist whose body of work has had a lasting impact on the understanding of cancer, significantly improving or saving the lives of people with the disease.

The foundation recognized Slamon for his seminal contributions to cancer research that helped shape the field of precision medicine in breast cancer and paved the way for the development of other targeted therapies in oncology.

Slamon, director of clinical and translational research at the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and chief of hematology–oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, first identified the HER2 gene, which is overexpressed in about 25–30% of breast cancer cases and is associated with a more aggressive form of the disease. This non-inherited genetic change defined a new subtype of breast cancer.

This research and subsequent clinical trials led by Slamon resulted in the development of the breast cancer drug Herceptin, the first gene-based drug to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fight cancer. Since its introduction in 1998, Herceptin has become a cornerstone in the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer, benefiting millions of women worldwide.