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AMA Honors NIH Chief Molecular Biologist Ira Pastan, MD, with Top Government Service Award

For immediate release:
March 2, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Ira Pastan, M.D., Chief of the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the National Institute of Health’s Center for Cancer Research will be honored tonight with the American Medical Association’s government service award for public service. The award is being presented as part of the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

“Dr. Pastan has been a leader in molecular biology for more than forty years and the AMA is pleased to honor him with this award,” said AMA Board Chair Rebecca J. Patchin, M.D. “His seminal work in receptor biology has resulted in many important discoveries, including new  treatments for a specific type of drug-resistant Leukemia, mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. He also has an extraordinary record as a mentor for young scientists.”

Dr. Pastan has been successful in identifying powerful toxins that can be used to eliminate cancer cells. Clinical trials testing his research have resulted in complete remission in patients with a drug-resistant form of Leukemia. His current research continues to focus on the use of immunotoxins to treat cancer.

"Through the Nathan Davis Awards, the AMA salutes government officials who go above and beyond the call of duty to improve public health,” said Dr. Patchin. “Award winners come from every branch of government service, and are a testament to the important role public officials play in creating and implementing health policy that benefits Americans.”

Dr. Pastan was nominated for the award by the Director of the National Institute of Health’s Center for Cancer Research and is one of nine honorees chosen this year to receive the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. The award, named for the founding father of the AMA, recognizes elected and career officials in federal, state or municipal service whose outstanding contributions have promoted the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Dr. Nathan Davis Awards. Others being honored this year include Governor John F. Baldacci of Maine and Donna Christensen, M.D., delegate to Congress from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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For additional information, please contact:

Lisa Lecas
AMA Media Relations
(312) 464-5980

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