Cohen, Seidah Receive 2018 Akira Endo Awards
TORONTO (June 10, 2018) – Jonathan C. Cohen, PhD, and Nabil G. Seidah, PhD, each received a 2018 National Lipid Association/Foundation of the NLA Akira Endo Award for Achievements in the Development of Treatments to Prevent Atherosclerosis at the XVIIIth International Symposium on Atherosclerosis opening ceremony on Saturday, June 10 for their research that led to the development of PCSK9 inhibitors.
NLA President Alan S. Brown, MD, FNLA, Immediate Past President James A. Underberg, MD, MS, FNLA, Past President W. Virgil Brown, MD, FNLA, and board member Ernst J. Schaeffer presented the awards.
Cohen is a C. Vincent Prothro Distinguished Chair in Human Nutrition Research at UT Southwestern in Dallas. His research focuses on the genetic basis of metabolic disorders that contribute common diseases such as heart disease and fatty liver disease. Together with his scientific partner, Dr. Helen Hobbs, he has identified genes that play major roles in the metabolism of fats, cholesterol and triglycerides, and elucidated the biological roles of their protein products. His laboratory showed that loss-of-function mutations in PCSK9 are associated with low plasma levels of cholesterol and confer protection from coronary heart disease. In addition, the Hobbs-Cohen laboratory identified the first genetic cause of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in humans.
Seidah is Director of the Biochemical Neuroendocrinology research unit at the Montreal Research Clinical Research Institute, a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Montreal and Adjunct Professor in the Division of Experimental Medicine at McGill University. His research focuses on a family of nine mammalian protein convertases (PCs): PC1, PC2, Furin, PC4, PC5, PACE4, PC7, SKI-1 and PCSK9. Seidah's team concentrates on the active mechanism and regulation of these enzymes, identifying their substrates and potential inhibitors. The goal of advancing their understanding of the physiological roles they play in cells and in mice is to develop clinical implications, as in the case of PCSK9. The team uses a broad range of techniques: protein and peptide biochemistry, enzymology, molecular and cell biology, proteomics and genetics. The lab possesses a unique collection of mutants and has completed full and/or conditional knockouts on PC5, Furin, PC7 and PCSK9.
Named for Japanese biochemist Akira Endo, who is recognized for his work in the discovery of statins, the award was established in 2015 and is presented at each triennial ISA. Harry R. “Chip” Davis, PhD, received the inaugural Endo Award at ISA in 2015 for his leadership in guiding the development of a unique and clinically valuable lipid-lowering drug, ezetimibe.