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June 12, 2003

Faculty win Mott Prize

Pitt faculty members Yuan Chang and Patrick S. Moore have been awarded the Charles S. Mott Prize, bestowed annually by the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation (GMCRF) for the most recent outstanding contribution to the cause or prevention of cancer.

The husband-and-wife team is from the School of Medicine where Chang is professor of pathology and Moore is professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry and director of the Molecular Virology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).

The professors received the $250,000 Mott Prize this week at GMCRF’s annual scientific conference in Washington, D.C.

“This award is one of the top annual awards in cancer research internationally as well as one of the most prestigious prizes ever awarded to a University of Pittsburgh faculty member,” said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the Health Sciences and dean of the medical school. “In fact, the honor has been bestowed on only a select number of the world’s top scientists, nine of whom have gone on to win Nobel prizes.”

Chang and Moore were honored with the Mott Prize for their discovery of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), which causes Kaposi’s sarcoma — the most common malignancy occurring in AIDS patients. KSHV also is linked to other disorders that involve a compromised immune system.

“Few scientists can lay claim to have truly found the cause of a cancer,” said Ronald B. Herberman, director of UPCI and the UPMC Cancer Centers. “Drs. Chang and Moore not only found the long-sought cause for a very common cancer in AIDS patients, but they also used their discovery to open new and exciting areas in cancer research. They are continuing to use innovative molecular biology techniques to understand the basis for KSHV’s ability to cause cancer and to unearth new pathogens and undiscovered viruses.”

Samuel A. Wells Jr., president of the GMCRF, called Chang and Moore exemplary scientists. “They were chosen through a rigorous process conducted by a panel of prestigious international scientists,” he said.

General Motors established the Cancer Research Foundation in 1978 to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of basic scientists and clinical scientists in cancer research around the world.

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