Dennis Slamon

Professor of Medicine

He made sure nothing got lost in translation.

Dennis Slamon had an idea. Since genetics plays a role in some cancers, a genetically targeted drug could arrest the disease. In 1987, he matched Genentech’s HER2 antibody with a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer that affects about 15 to 20 percent of women. After years of research, treating cells in a petri dish and then in mice, Slamon was ready for clinical trials. That’s when his path crossed that of Barbara Bradfield, a woman whose breast cancer had already metastasized. He begged Bradfield to become part of the first clinical trial of the drug that would be dubbed Herceptin. For Bradfield, it would be a miracle drug: more than 20 years later, she is still alive and cancer-free. And Herceptin, approved by the FDA in 1998, has transformed one of the deadliest forms of breast cancer into one of the most treatable. Translational medicine – turning basic research into effective treatment – is still Slamon’s focus.

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Dennis Slamon

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