A Triumph in the War Against Cancer

From Smithsonian:

Druker-cancer-with-patient-631 Brian Druker arrived at OHSU in 1993, years before the tram would be built and the hall-of-fame mural in the adjacent passageway would include a picture of him. Tall, as lanky and lightfooted as a greyhound, soft-spoken, Druker was 38 and had just spent nine years at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, part of Harvard Medical School, in Boston. “I saw cancer as being a tractable problem,” he recalled of the research path he chose after finishing medical school at the University of California, San Diego. “People were beginning to get some hints and some clues and it just seemed to me that in my lifetime it was likely to yield to science and discovery.”

At Dana-Farber, Druker landed in a laboratory studying how a normal human cell gives rise to runaway growth—malignancy. Among other things, the lab focused on enzymes, proteins that change other molecules by breaking them down (gut enzymes, for example, help digest food) or linking them up (hair follicle enzymes construct silky keratin fibers). Enzymes also figure in chain reactions, with one enzyme activating another and so on, until some complex cellular feat is accomplished; thus a cell can control a process such as growth or division by initiating a single reaction, like tipping the first domino. Under the lab’s chief, Thomas Roberts, Druker mastered numerous techniques for tracking and measuring enzymes in tissue samples, eventually turning to one implicated in CML.

More here.