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Cancer expert William Kaelin joins Lilly’s board

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute professor’s work has led to developments in kidney cancer treatment

William Kaelin - Eli LillyLilly has appointed physician and cancer research specialist Dr William Kaelin Jr to its board of directors.

Dr Kaelin, who is currently a professor in the department of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate director, basic science, at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, replaces Dr Martin Feldstein who has retired from the board.

"Bill is a leading cancer researcher and has a clear appreciation of the importance of scientific research and of Lilly's commitment to the discovery and development of innovative medicines that make a difference for patients,” said Lilly's chair, president and CEO, Dr John Lechleiter.

Dr Kaelin joined Dana-Faber as a medical oncology research fellow in the 1980s, where his work saw him study tumour suppression proteins alongside Dr David Livingston before setting up his own lab in 1992.

His work since then has involved research at a genetic level into von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease – a hereditary cancer that can lead to tumours in the kidneys, adrenal glands and pancreas.

This research has led to develops in the treatment of kidney cancer, with VHL linked to an overproduction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which can lead to tumours by stimulating blood vessel growth and erythropoietin production.

This knowledge behind this process was accelerated by the work of Dr Kaelin and his team, and two VEGF inhibitor drugs have since been approved for use in people with kidney cancer.

In addition to his work at Dana-Faber, Dr Kaelin is an elected member of the US Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences and has served on several boards and committees, including the American Association for Cancer Research's board of directors and the National Cancer Institute's board of scientific advisors.

7th June 2012

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