(LOUISVILLE, KY) – Brown Cancer Center researchers A. Bennett Jenson, MD and Shin-je Ghim, PhD, part of the team who invented the world’s first anti-cancer vaccine targeting the human papillomavirus (HPV), were recently honored by Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, the Honorable Order of the Kentucky Colonels, Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI), Kentucky Monthly Magazine and the Institut Pasteur of Korea.
Governor Fletcher recognized Jenson and Ghim’s efforts to end cervical cancer during his State of the Commonwealth Address given on February 6th. The research team was also inducted into the Honorable Order of the Kentucky Colonels. At GLI ‘s annual dinner held February 5th at Freedom Hall, GLI gave Jenson and Ghim the Silver Fleur de Lis award, GLI’s highest honor.
Last month, the pair was named Kentuckians of the Year by Kentucky Monthly magazine for their work in a profile that appeared in the magazine’s January 2007 issue. Past Kentuckians of the Year have included poet and novelist Wendell Berry, KCTCS president Michael McCall, First Lady Judy Patton, U of L surgeons and heart transplant pioneers Laman Gray and Robert Dowling, Paducah school shooting survivor Missy Jenkins and former Miss America and veterans advocate Heather French Henry.
Ghim was also recently appointed to the board of the prestigious Institut Pasteur of Korea, an organization founded by the Korean Minister of Sciences and Technology and affiliated with the French Institut Pasteur. The board helps guide the organization’s strategic and scientific focus.
While working at Georgetown University, Jenson and Ghim’s research team invented the vaccine that neutralizes the human papillomavirus—the major cause of cervical cancer. The team also demonstrated the efficacy of the vaccine in preclinical trials. Both researchers, who are also on the faculty of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, hold several U.S. patents on both the preclinical science and the human vaccine. Their work is the basis of the vaccine, known as GardasilTM, introduced by Merck after final FDA approval in June 2006.
Jenson and Ghim are now spearheading creation of a less expensive, but equally powerful version of the original vaccine so that all women—in Kentucky, across the United States and around the world—regardless of health insurance or access to medical care can be protected against HPV and prevent cervical cancer.
By using the tobacco mosaic virus, the vaccine can then be grown in genetically modified tobacco plants—providing an alternative use for a plant linked to the leading cancer killer nationally and in Kentucky, lung cancer.
The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville’s Health Sciences Center and UofL Health Care. As the region’s leading academic, research, and teaching medical center, our patients benefit from the latest medical advances, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The Brown Cancer Center is affiliated with the National Cancer Institute and the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our website www.browncancer.org.