UCSF Chancellor J. Michael Bishop, MD
, today (March 14) received the 2003 National Medal of Science at a White House ceremony. The medal is the nation's highest honor for science and technology.
Bishop was one of eight medal winners honored. President George W. Bush presented the awards.
The National Medal of Science honors individuals in a variety of fields for pioneering scientific research that has led to a better understanding of the world, as well as to the innovations and technologies that give the United States its global economic edge. The National Science Foundation administers the award, established by Congress in 1959.
Bishop, who is also the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Professor, University Professor, and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at UCSF, began his research career working on the replication of poliovirus. But soon after arriving at UCSF in 1968, he shifted his attention to Rous sarcoma virus, hoping to explore the fundamental mechanisms of tumorigenesis. In 1970, he was joined by Harold Varmus.
Together, they directed the research that led to the discovery of proto-oncogenes -- normal genes that can be converted to cancer genes by genetic damage. This work eventually led to the recognition that all cancer probably arises from damage to normal genes, and provided new strategies for the detection and treatment of cancer. Bishop has devoted his research to the study of proto-oncogenes -- their functions in normal cells and the manner in which they become cancer genes.
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