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Profile .......... Demitrios A Spandidos

Issue: Vol.2, No.2 - January 2003

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Article Type: Profile

Demetrios A. Spandidos is Professor of Virology (since 1989) at the Medical School, University of Crete, Director of Clinical Virology Laboratory (since 1990) at the University Hospital in Heraklion, Crete and he was Research Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology and Biotechnology (1988 ? 1998) at the Institute of Biological Research and Biotechnology at the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens, Greece. He is the founder and Editor of the International Journal of Oncology, Oncology Reports and International Journal of Molecular Medicine.

Dr. Spandidos was born in Agios Constantions, Sparta, Greece and obtained his B.S.C. in chemistry from the University of Thessaloniki, Greece in 1971, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1976 and a D.Sc. in Genetics from the University of Glasgow, UK in 1989. He is Fellow of the Royal Society of Health (1994) London, UK, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathology (1997) London, UK and corresponding Member of the Academic National de Medicine de Buenos Aires, Argentina (1999).

He was an MRC of Canada post-doctoral Fellow at the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto in 1976-1978, an Assistant Professor (Epimelitics) at the Hellenic Anticancer Institute in Athens in 1978-1979, an MRC of Canada Centennial Fellow at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research from 1981-1989 when he took up his present appointments in Greece.

The identification of cellular oncogenes has probably been the most important discovery in modern cancer research. Prior to their isolation and identification as cellular homologues of retroviral transforming retroviruses and their oncogenes were experimental artifacts irrelevant to human cancer. Since then an explosion of work has demonstrated the direct relevance of cellular oncogenes and analysis of their role in multistage carcinogenesis. Dr. Spandidos has made extremely important and perhaps unique contributions in these fields.

Dr. Spandidos was the first scientist in the field of oncology to develop and apply the gene transfer technique, which has become a most potent tool to investigate oncogenes (D.A.Spandidos and L.Siminovitch, Cell 12: 675-682, 1977; D.A. Spandidos and L. Siminovitch, Nature 271: 259-261, 1978). Thus, his work assisted in development of the gene transfer technology that has been of paramount importance in revealing new oncogenes, as well as implementing the molecular understanding of oncogenes and how the normal proto-oncogenes become activated into their malignant transforming cognates. This field has expanded tremendously over the past twenty years and Dr. Spandidos has continued to contribute actively, playing a major role in his scientific investigations on the ras oncogene. While at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow he performed notable and important investigations on the nature of transformation of normal cells by introduction of single ras gene using retroviral LTRs and other strong promoters (D.A.Spandidos and N.M.Wilkie, Nature 310: 469-475, 1984; cited over 500 times). Some other ideas of his were very provocative at the time like the dual function of ras genes as oncogenes and onco-suppressors (D.A.Spandidos and N.M.Wilkie, Br J Cancer 58: 67, 1988 and D.A.Spandidos, et al, Anticancer Res 10:1543, 1990) which have now proven to be correct (Z.Zhang, et al, Nature Genet 28: 25, 2001). His most significant work includes the discovery of avian retrovirus (D.A Spandidos and A.E.Graham, J Virol 19: 977, 1976- more than 60 citations), the involvement of ras genes in colon tumours (D.A.Spandidos and I.B.Kerr, Br J Cancer 49:681, 1984 more than 210 citations), the role of ras and myc genes in apoptosis (A.H.Wyllie, K.A.Rose, R.G.Morris, C.M.Steel, E.Foster and D.A.Spandidos, Br J Cancer 56: 251, 1987-more than 185 citations), the involvement of c-myc (J.K Field, D.A Spandidos, et al, Oncogene 4: 1463, 1989- more than 105 citations) and p53 (J.K.Field, D.A.Spandidos, et al, Br J Cancer 64: 573, 1991-more than 240 citations) in head and neck carcinomas. Dr. Spandidos is the most highly cited scientist of the 20th century in all sciences for work performed in the Balkan countries.

Dr. Spandidos has organized a number of international meetings on a variety of areas of oncology and molecular medicine and he ha served on the Editorial Boards of a number of journals and he is an Honorary Member of several societies. Dr. Spandidos has authored more than 380 publications, 600 communications and invited talks at international conferences and his work has received over 6000 citations. Although actively occupied in fundamental studies in cell and molecular oncology he has always been ready to explore the medical implications of his work with colleagues in the pathological and clinical sciences and has stimulated work in many different laboratories throughout the world. Part of his efforts has been to establish a scientific tradition in biomedical sciences in Greece, including the successful creation of a school of talented scientists with international recognition. As a result of the efforts of Dr. Spandidos, Greece has been put on the map of biomedical and cancer research at an international level.

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