Dr. Susan Band Horwitz is best known for elucidating the mechanism of action of Taxol®, a natural product obtained from the yew tree, Taxus brevifolia. Horwitz discovered that Taxol® binds to microtubules in cells, stabilizing them, thereby leading to cell cycle arrest and subsequent tumor cell death. This body of work enabled the successful translation of Taxol® into the clinic. It is one of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the world for the treatment of ovarian, breast and lung cancer.
Dr. Horwitz' research played a crucial role in encouraging the development of Taxol® for use in the clinic. Although no one was interested in Taxol® when she began her studies, today it is an important antitumor drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of ovarian, breast and lung carcinomas, as well as Kaposi’s Sarcoma. The drug has been given to millions of cancer patients worldwide. Taxol® also is used in the preparation of stents for cardiac disease. In addition, Taxol® has proven to be an indispensable tool for scientists interested in microtubule structure, dynamics, and function.
Susan Band Horwitz, Ph.D., was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, a small town near Boston, where she attended public high school. She enrolled at Bryn Mawr College with the intent to major in history, but after taking a required course in science, she switched her major to biology. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Brandeis University, where her mentor was Professor Nathan O. Kaplan, with whom she studied enzyme kinetics. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Departments of Pharmacology at Tufts University Medical School, Emory University Medical School and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In 1970, she joined the faculty at Einstein, where she is a Distinguished Professor and holds the Falkenstein Chair in Cancer Research in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology.
Dr. Horwitz has received numerous honors and awards, including the C. Chester Stock Award from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize from Harvard Medical School, The Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research, The American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor and the AACR Lifetime Achievement Award in Cancer Research. Dr. Horwitz served as president of the American Association of Cancer Research. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and is also a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the American Pharmacognosy Society.