Issue Date: January 8, 2018
ACS Award for Creative Invention: Robert S. Kania
Sponsor: ACS Corporation Associates
Citation: For work leading to the invention of axitinib (Inlyta), a novel VEGFR kinase inhibitor, as a treatment for renal cell carcinoma.
Current position: senior director of oncology drug design chemistry, Pfizer
Education: B.S., chemistry, University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D., chemistry, Harvard University
Kania on what he hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “My goal over the next decade is to contribute to the discovery of a new cohort of small-molecule medicines to treat cancer. Each new breakthrough area in cancer gives me, and the colleagues I work with, opportunities to learn about breaking science and discover small-molecule drugs. Just like the rewarding experience of our drug discovery efforts directed toward finding antiangiogenic drugs and targeted therapies for specific tumor-intrinsic mutations, where we have seen our molecules reach patients, my hope is that our ongoing efforts will lead to the discovery of small-molecule drugs for immuno-oncology and epigenetic targets that will reach patients in the next 10 years.”
What his colleagues say: “Rob’s invention of axitinib (Inlyta), a rationally designed inhibitor of VEGFR that is effective against a range of solid tumors, is one of the most significant of recent years in cancer chemotherapeutics. Inhibiting VEGFR with a small molecule had long been an unmet challenge. The invention of axitinib will not only benefit countless cancer sufferers but also stimulate further advances in other areas of medicine. Rob has continued to invent and achieve at an extraordinary level and will surely go on to other remarkable feats of discovery.”—E. J. Corey, Harvard University
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