Yale’s Craig M. Crews has been named the winner of the 2024 Kimberly Prize in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, the largest biochemistry award in the U.S.
Craig M. Crews, the John C. Malone Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and a pioneer in the pharmaceutical field of targeted protein degradation, has been named the winner of the 2024 Kimberly Prize in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.
The prestigious award is given annually to a scientist who has made outstanding research contributions toward the understanding of the molecular basis of life with a direct demonstrated link of their discovery into clinical use for the betterment of humankind.
Crews, who is also a professor of chemistry, of pharmacology, and of management, was selected for leading the development of both the anti-cancer drug carfilzomib (Kyprolis), which is used in the treatment of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, and for PROTAC (Proteolysis-Targeting Chimeras) therapies. PROTAC therapies use heterobifunctional molecules — molecular homing devices fused to cellular protein adapters — to target specific proteins for destruction by the cell’s proteasome.
Crews is credited with bringing PROTAC-based drugs into clinical trials, which could be used to treat an array of human diseases, including cancer, that cannot be targeted by small-molecular drugs.
Crews, who has been at Yale since 1995, has also launched four different firms based on his research, including Proteolix, Inc., whose proteasome inhibitor Kyprolis received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of multiple myeloma; Arvinas, Inc., the first biotechnology company to bring PROTAC drugs into clinical trials; and Halda Therapeutics, which is focused on experimental medicines for cancer.
The Kimberly Prize is awarded by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics, and Kimberly Querrey in honor of her late husband, Lou Simpson, a Northwestern trustee, alumnus, and benefactor. The honor, which comes with a prize of $250,000, is the largest biochemistry award offered in the U.S.
“It’s a great honor for our work on Targeted Protein Degradation to be recognized by this generous award,” Crews said. “It has been very rewarding to help guide this new idea from academic concept twenty-two years ago through to clinical testing today.
“PROTAC-based drug candidates are in their final clinical trial stages and I hope patients will soon have new therapeutic options to treat their disease.”
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