Researchers at the Medical Institutions awarded the first Hans Joaquim Prochaska Research Prize at last week's annual Young Investigators Day to Andrew Cameron, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate.
The prize recognizes the outstanding achievements of Hans Joaquim Prochaska, a Hopkins graduate who completed the M.D./Ph.D. program in the 1980s in a record 5 years.
"As a researcher, Hans has the uncanny and exceptional ability to translate his imaginative ideas into practical experiments, which he performs with great enthusiasm and equal success," says Paul Talalay, J.J. Abel Distinguished Service Professor of Pharmacology and a mentor and friend of Prochaska. "He's an outstanding clinician as well--his time as Osler Medical House officer was one of unusual distinction."
Cameron won the first Prochaska prize for his work with FK506, an immunosuppressive drug originally identified in yeast that is given to organ transplant recipients.
"I worked to identify the receptor for this drug in the body--the opening on the surface of cells that it binds with," says Cameron. "It's comparable to a key and a lock; if we could find the lock that the drug fits into, that will help us identify the body's naturally occurring keys for the lock."
Cameron identified a protein in the cell that serves as the body's natural key for the receptor, which had been previously identified, and showed that a portion of this protein was similar to an area on FK506.
"It's possible that we may be able to learn something from this region of the protein that will help us develop more effective drugs that can be given at lower doses with fewer side effects," says Cameron.
The Prochaska award was established by Talalay and is
intended to honor the excellence that Prochaska exemplifies, and
the distinction he has brought to the Hopkins M.D./Ph.D. program.