Napoleone Ferrara, MD
Senior Deputy Director, Basic Science
Distinguished Professor of Pathology
Napoleone Ferrara, MD, joined Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health after a storied career in Northern California at the biotechnology giant Genentech, where he pioneered development of new treatments for cancer and age-related macular degeneration. There, he discovered vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)—and made the first VEGF antibody—which suppresses growth of a variety of tumors. These findings helped lead to development of the first clinically available anti-angiogenesis inhibitor drug, bevacizumab (Avastin), which prevents the growth of new blood vessels into a solid tumor and which has become part of standard treatment for a variety of cancers. Dr. Ferrara’s work led also to the development of ranibizumab (Lucentis), a drug that is highly effective at preventing vision loss in intraocular neovascular disorders.
At Moores Cancer Center, Dr. Ferrara serves as Senior Deputy Director, Basic Science and is a Distinguished Professor of Pathology in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, where he will continue cancer drug research targeting angiogenesis. He is presently focusing on investigating mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis alternative to VEGF, in particular the role of factors produced by myeloid cells and fibroblasts in mediating resistance to VEGF inhibitors.
Dr. Ferrara earned his MD degree from the University of Catania Medical School in Italy. He did his postdoctoral research at UC San Francisco. Dr. Ferrara was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.
In February 2013, Dr. Ferrara was named one of 11 recipients of the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which comes with a $3 million cash award. He has also won numerous other awards, including the General Motors Cancer Research Award (2006), the ASCO Science of Oncology Award (2007), the Pezcoller Foundation/AACR International Award (2009), the Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award (2010), the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research (2011), and The Economist’s Innovation Award for bioscience in 2012.
Napoleone Ferrara, MD
Executive assistant: Lori Davis