W. Martin Kast, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, and obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was named the 2010 Eminent Scientist of the Year and North American Immunologist of the Year by the International Research Promotion Council.
The charitable organization is dedicated to supporting scientists whose work is of particular significance to underdeveloped and developing countries.
Kast received the Millennium Golden International Award for his life’s research of human papillomavirus, which is linked to cervical and other forms of cancer.
The most cases of cervical cancer are in underdeveloped and developing countries, Kast said.
“There are about half a million cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year, of which 80 percent or so are in underdeveloped or developing countries. This award supports our effort in finding new treatments that could benefit patients in all countries.”
The award was presented on Sept. 9 in the Edmondson Faculty Center on the Health Sciences campus. Thomas Koilparampil, the council’s chief international coordinator, traveled from India for the sole purpose of presenting the award to Kast and stressing the importance of his work.
“Unfortunately, carcinoma of the uterine cervix is the leading cancer of which women in Third World countries die,” Koilparampil said. “[Kast’s] contributions to immunology and [the study of] human papillomavirus and the field of therapeutic vaccination to control cervical and other cancers, we consider wonderful achievements.”
After receiving the award, Kast thanked Keck School department chairs Jae Jung (molecular microbiology and immunology) and Laila Muderspach (obstetrics and gynecology), as well as USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center director Peter Jones and other colleagues for their support of his research.
The International Research Promotion Council was formed in 1993 with the aim of coordinating the activities of scientists whose research activities tackle issues facing Third World countries. The organization has five chapters spanning the globe and counts more than 300 scientists among its members.
Kast earned his Ph.D. in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and has been at USC since 2003.
He holds the Walter A. Richter Cancer Research Chair at the Keck School and is co-leader of the tumor microenvironment program at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
His research focuses on developing effective new therapies for cervical cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma.
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