Drugging Undruggable Targets for Cancer: Where We Stand Today Using the Example of KRAS with Garth Powis, D. Phil.

  • An "undruggable target" is a target that could not be targeted pharmacologically. Many desirable cancer targets fall into this category.  New approaches and new technologies are challenging the concept of undruggable targets and promising agents are now in development. The way the pharmaceutical industry, biotech and academic labs are working together has changed dramatically in the last few years and is greatly helping the challenge of finding drugs for these targets.

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Dr. Garth Powis, D.Phil., is Director of the Sanford Burnham Presbyterian Medical Research Institute Cancer Center in La Jolla, CA. Prior to becoming the Director in May of 2013, Dr. Powis was the Chair of Experimental Therapeutics, and Director of the Center for Targeted Therapy at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, and prior to that, Director for Basic Research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. Dr. Powis obtained an undergraduate degree in medical biochemistry from Birmingham University, UK and his D.Phil. degree in biochemistry and pharmacology from the University of Oxford in the UK. His first position upon moving to the US was as a tenured professor in the Division of Developmental Cancer Research at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota studying the mechanism of action and metabolism of novel anticancer drugs.

Dr. Powis is a molecular pharmacologist well known for his discovery and validation of novel cancer targets, and using them to develop small molecule inhibitors for cancer therapy. He  has cofounded two cancer drug development pharmaceutical companies,  authored of more than 350 publications, serves on six cancer center external advisory boards and  is on the editorial board of six research journals.


Ms. Powis completed her Bachelor of Science degrees in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Psychology at the University of Arizona. During that time, she worked in cancer research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center with laboratory projects specializing in cancer genetics. Prior to graduate school, Ms. Powis worked as substance abuse counselor. In 2003, she obtained her master's degree in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University. Upon graduation, Ms. Powis worked in prenatal and infertility genetic counseling and as a laboratory genetic coordinator at Genzyme Genetics. Prior to joining Ambry, she worked 7 years at the University of Arizona, in pediatric, neuromuscular, metabolic, cancer, adult genetic counseling and various research projects. Ms. Powis joined the clinical reporting team in 2013 and due to her involvement in numerous research projects, transition to the research team in 2015. She oversees clinical genomics and neurology research, initiating and conducting collaborations in novel genetic etiologies, characterized genes and other specialties.

  • Mon, February 5, 2018
  • 12:00pm PST
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • C.E.U.
    1 Category 1 Contact Hour
  • P.A.C.E. 1 unit

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