Maurice, Ethel, and Jane Sokolow
Memorial Cancer Endowment Lectureship
René Bernards, PhD Professor of Molecular Carcinogenesis, Netherlands Cancer Institute
Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 4:00 - 5:15 pm
"Synthetic Lethal Drug Combinations for the Treatment of Cancer"
Mission Bay Campus, Byers Auditorium, GH-106
>> Live stream available for the UCSF community
Thursday, June 18, 2015, 12:00 - 1:00 pm
"Personalized Cancer Treatment Beyond the Genotype"
Parnassus Campus, HSW-300
René Bernards studied adenovirus transformation for his PhD research from 1980 to 1984 with Alex van der Eb in Leiden. He joined the laboratory of Robert Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, USA for his postdoctoral training, were he worked with Stephen Friend on the isolation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene. He was appointed assistant professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in 1988. In 1992 he joined the Netherlands Cancer Institute. In 1994 he was also appointed part time professor of molecular carcinogenesis at Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
His scientific accomplishments include the development of MammaPrint, the first clinically-used gene expression profile for breast cancer. To bring this discovery to the clinic he co-founded “Agendia”, a genomics-based diagnostic company that started offering the first microarray-based diagnostic test for the clinical management of breast cancer in 2004. His laboratory also developed the first shRNA vector for gene silencing in mammalian cells and used this vector to create the first genome-scale library of shRNA vectors. His laboratory has used this vector collection to identify biomarkers of response to cancer drugs and to identify particularly powerful drug combinations for the treatment of cancer, based on the concept of synthetic lethality. There are currently four clinical trials that test the efficacy of combination therapies suggested by his genetic screens: NCT01719380; NCT01750918; NCT01791309 and NCT02039336.He received several awards for his research, including the Pezcoller Foundation-FECS Recognition for Contribution to Oncology, the Ernst W. Bertner Award for Cancer Research from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award in Translational Research in Breast Cancer, the Spinoza award from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and the Queen Wilhelmina Research Prize from the Dutch Cancer Society. He is also a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the Academy Professor Prize from this organization in 2013.
After the deaths of Dr. Sokolow's daughter, Jane, from Burkitt's lymphoma in July 1970, and that of his wife, Ethel, from a breast malignancy the following December, the Ethel and Jane Sokolow Visiting Scientist Program was established at UCSF by their families, classmates, and friends. Upon the death of Maurice Sokolow in 2002, the Fund was renamed as the Maurice, Ethel, and Jane Sokolow Memorial Cancer Endowment Lectureship.
Born in New York, Maurice Sokolow moved to California as a young child with his family, after which he spent seven years in an orphanage following the death of his mother. He attended UCLA and UC-Berkeley with the help of his sister, Josephine Osborne, then worked his way through medical school at UCSF, living at the Laguna Honda Hospital and working there at night. In receiving his medical degree in 1936 he was awarded the Gold Headed Cane, the honor bestowed upon the top graduating medical student.
Maurice Sokolow ("Soke") spent virtually his entire medical career at UCSF, following a residency at New England Medical Center in Boston and a fellowship in cardiology at the Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. He served in the Navy during World War II, stationed on a hospital ship in Fiji.
During the 1950s, Sokolow was head of the hypertension section at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center. He earned a reputation as a highly creative researcher and teacher, and became a founding member of the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute, merging clinical cardiology with academic and research work. He designed and constructed an ambulatory device to show that blood pressure varied throughout the day. His study also confirmed that blood pressures taken in the clinic setting tended to be higher than ambulatory pressures for the majority of patients. This portable recorder provided a major role in hypertension studies throughout the next decades, including the discovery of "white coat" hypertension, a persistently elevated clinical blood pressure when the patient was being seen by a doctor. Sokolow also developed special expertise in the field of electrocardiography and in treating the complications of rheumatic fever.
Among Sokolow's more than 160 medical publications is the textbook Clinical Cardiology, co-authored with Melvin D. Cheitlin, MD, and Malcolm McIlroy, MD. Now in its 6th edition, the textbook has been translated into seven languages.
Jane Sokolow died in 1970 at the age of 25 of the rare cancer Burkitt's lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In the U.S., only about 300 new cases of Burkitt's lymphoma are diagnosed each year.
Ethel Schwabacher Sokolow, diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35, was a longtime cancer survivor in an era when few therapeutic options were available, and her resilience continues to serve as an inspiration to her friends and family. An actress, Ethel Sokolow appeared in Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run" in 1969, the year before she succumbed to metastatic cancer at age 54. Her death followed that of her daughter by five months.
Dr. Maurice Sokolow's own death, 32 years after that of his wife and daughter, was from lymphoma. Surviving members of his family include two daughters, Gail and Anne, and their families. Gail and her husband Marc Goldyne, MD, have two children -- Serena Goldyne Brenner (husband Matthew Brenner and son Eli), and Avi Goldyne (wife Dara). Anne and her husband Peter Levine, MD, have two children, Joshua and Sara.