Pittsburgh Cancer Researchers Awarded International Prize

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Media Relations


One of the most prestigious awards in the field of medicine will be presented to University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine faculty members and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) researchers Yuan Chang, M.D., and Patrick S. Moore, M.D.

The duo, whose Chang-Moore Laboratory, located at UPMC CancerCenter, is credited with discovering two of the seven known human viruses that directly cause cancer. They will receive the 2017 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, given annually to medical researchers who have made significant contributions in the fields of immunology, cancer research, microbiology and chemotherapy.

“Drs. Chang and Moore’s contributions to cancer research have been significant and lasting, touching the lives of people around the world,” said Arthur S. Levine, Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. “They are the first Pitt faculty members to ever be honored with the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize. The University community congratulates them and celebrates this well-deserved tribute to the pioneering work that has come to define their careers.”

Chang and Moore discovered the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus, or human herpesvirus 8 (KSHV/HHV8) in 1994. The virus causes Kaposi's sarcoma, the most common AIDS-related malignancy and one of the most frequently occurring cancers in Africa. Prior to this discovery, medical researchers had worked for nearly 15 years to find an infectious agent associated with Kaposi's sarcoma. The pair also identified Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV)—the cause of Merkel cell carcinoma, one of the world's most clinically aggressive skin cancers—in 2008.

The two have been widely recognized for their work, which has garnered some of the highest national and international honors in medicine, infectious disease and cancer. Together they have been honored with the 2012 Marjorie Stephenson Prize from the Society of General Microbiology in the United Kingdom; the 2003 Charles S. Mott Award from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation; the 1998 Robert Koch Prize; and the 1997 Meyenburg Prize. Chang and Moore also are elected fellows of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The international recognition among the scientific community is evidence of the tremendous and long-lasting impact that Drs. Moore and Chang have made in advancing our knowledge on the viral causes of some cancers.” said Edward Chu, M.D., interim director of UPCI. “We are proud and honored to have them as two of our most senior and accomplished investigators.”

Chang’s current research centers on viral oncogenesis with efforts specifically focused on KSHV, MCV, and new pathogen discovery. Moore’s research focuses on addressing cancers caused by viruses and how this information can be used to understand molecular causes for non-infectious cancers.

The award honoring Chang’s and Moore’s work is named for renowned German scientists Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter. The prize is given by the Paul Ehrlich Foundation, which is managed by the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. The foundation presents the honor annually in Frankfurt on Ehrlich’s birthday, March 14.

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