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Ira Pastan


Ira Pastan, M.D. (born Winthrop, Massachusetts 6/1/31) is an American scientist. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the AAAS and the American Society of Microbiology. As of July 2007, he has coauthored 1060 scientific publications (Entrez Website), making him one of today's most prolific scientific researchers. His wife, Linda Pastan, is an accomplished American poet.


Pastan is chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the National Cancer Institute, a position he started in 1970. He obtained his B.S. from Tufts in 1953. He received his M.D. from Tufts University 1957, completed his residency training at Yale University and conducted research training in endocrinology at NIH with Earl Stadtman starting in 1959. By 1970 he had risen to position of Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the National Cancer Institute (the largest branch of the National Institutes of Health). He currently holds this same title and is working on various Immunotoxin Therapies.

Research Focus

Pastan is currently working at the NIH investigating the use of immunotoxin therapy as a cancer treatment but his research interests have covered a wide range of topics. Covered below are a few key discoveries:

During his work at the Clinical Endocrinology Branch he worked on cAMP, recently discovered by Dr. Earl Sutherland. During the course of this research he, along with collaborators, investigated the binding of TSH and ACTH to cell-surface receptors. His research demonstrated that cAMP produced a conformational change in cAMP binding protein, enabling better access to the promotor regions of various genes. This discovery was a scientific milestone as it was the first example of a positive control of gene expression.[1][2][3][4]

During his early career in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Pastan was responsible for early work on cancer cell abnormal adhesion and motility. This work witnessed the isolation of the first cDNA clones encoding collagen and fibronectin.

Pastan's work in the '80s with Mark Willingham used Video Intensification Microscopy to demonstrate the binding and endocytosis of proteins to cell-surface receptors. This research led to the discovery of the endosome.

Since the mid-'80s Pastan's work has focused on immunotoxin therapy. This technique employs a hybrid protein molecule - an antibody attached to a potent bacterial toxin - to selectively target tumorous cells. Pastan's lab focuses on variations of the exotoxin derived from Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Most recently, Pastan is performing clinical trials using the SS1P immunotoxin(SS1P Article). SS1P targets mesothelioma, a cancer most often caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. In addition, he is also currently engaged in clinical trials using the BL22, an immunotoxin that targets a number of hematolical cancers, such as leukemias.


  1. ^ Curriculum Vitae
  2. ^ NCI @ NIH Directory Listing
  3. ^ NIH Biograpy
  4. ^ Science Breakthroughs Revisited: A Cancer Killer September 12, 2006
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ira_Pastan". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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