Lectures and seminars What is Life? The Future of Biology: Future Anti-Cancer Targets: Put the Cart Before the Horses
Speaker: Tak Mak, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University of Toronto, Canada
Tak Wah Mak biography
Since 1984, he has been a Professor in the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Immunology at the University of Toronto. In 2004 Mak became the director of the Advanced Medical Discovery Institute and the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research. He is also the senior scientist, division of Stem Cell and Developmental Biology, Advanced Medical Discovery Institute/Ontario Cancer Institute.
In 1984, Mak discovered the T-cell receptor, with Mark M. Davis identifying the receptor in mouse. In 1995, Mak published a landmark paper on the discovery of the function of the immune checkpoint protein CTLA-4, thus opening the path for immunotherapy/checkpoint inhibitors as a means of cancer treatment. He has worked in a variety of areas including biochemistry, immunology, and cancer genetics.
In 1993, Mak received support from the world's largest independent biotech company, Amgen, to establish the Amgen Research Institute in Toronto. Financial support from Amgen resulted in his lab pioneering the use of knockout mice, and as a result his lab generated one of the first knockout mice and has generated more knockout mice than any other lab in the world.Mak's role in advancing the use of genetically altered mice in scientific study has led to important breakthroughs in immunology and understanding cancer at the cellular level.
From the early 2000s, Mak concentrated his efforts on the emerging field of cancer metabolism. Mak, Lewis C. Cantley, and Craig B. Thompson together founded Agios Pharmaceuticals, a biotech pharmaceutical company whose sole purpose is to discover methods of targeting cancer metabolism. Its lead compound, IDHIFA®, was approved by the FDA for acute myeloid leukemia in August 2017, becoming the first drug specifically targeting cancer metabolism to be used for cancer treatment.
Mak holds Honorary Doctoral Degrees from numerous universities in North America and Europe. He is a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (UK.) He has won international recognition in the forms of the Sloan Prize of the General Motors Cancer Foundation, the Novartis Prize in Immunology, and the Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research.
Hosts: Hans Wigzell and Ingemar Ernberg