Pioneer in the fight against breast cancer
Dr. Argiris Efstratiadis is a scientist who fights against breast cancer as his laboratory is focused on mouse developmental genetics, with emphasis on the role of growth factors in normal development and malignancy, specifically mammary tumour progression, including research on the murine homologs of the breast cancer susceptibility genes Brca1 and Brca2, and the involvement of the Notch signaling pathway in breast tumours.
Except of breast tumours, his additional work on tumorigenesis includes the development of novel approaches for modelling cancer at anatomical sites of choice (“designer tumours”), preclinical studies to treat breast cancer in mice with drugs inhibiting IGF signaling (picropophyllin derivatives), studies on the involvement of stem cells in tumour initation, and development of mouse models for prostate and pancreatic cancer.
He is internationally recognized both for pioneering advances in recombinant DNA technology and for contributions to the understanding of the structure, evolution and expression of eukaryotic genes.
Dr. Efstratiadis and his colleagues were the first to develop the technology of cDNA cloning, which allowed them to sequence and characterize for the first time the structure of a eukaryotic mRNA .
This pioneering work established an approach essential for the identification and mapping of eukaryotic genes and for the capability to synthesize in bacteria medically useful proteins.
Dr. Efstratiadis was a member of the team that constructed for the first time a bacterium synthesizing insulin.
Since then, he has made contributions to the study of the genes encoding globin, insulin and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs).
Efstratiadis discovered that functional genes can be generated by RNA retroposition.
Gene targeting experiments in mice, allowed Efstratiadis and his colleagues to discover the first example of an endogenous gene (Igf2) that is subject to parental imprinting and to establish the IGF signaling system as the major determinant of growth during embryonic and postnatal development.
Dr. Efstratiadis’s laboratory has performed research on the murine Huntington’s disease homolog and on pancreatic b-cell pathophysiology pertaining to diabetes, and has created genetically-modified mice simulating syndromes of fetal growth retardation, Laron dwarfism and overgrowth (Beckwith-Wiedemann and Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndromes).
Argiris Efstratiadis was born and raised in Lesvos island.
In 1966, he earned his M.D. degree from the University of Athens and in 1971 after completing a thesis on lipid metabolism, he received a Dr.Med.Sci. degree (equivalent to Ph.D.) from the same university.
In 1976 he earned his Ph.D. in Biology at Harvard University.
He was a Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and then a faculty member in the Department of Biological Chemistry, Harvard Medical School.
He received a career development award from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (1980-83).
He joined Columbia University as a Professor of Genetics and Development in 1982 and he became Emeritus Professor in 2009.
He was instrumental in the development of the Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biophysical Studies and served as its first director.
In 1998, Dr. Efstratiadis was elected corresponding member of the Academy of Athens and he is Scientific Director of the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens.