An MIT staff member writes, "In 1979 Robert Weinberg reports isolating and identifying the first oncogene, a mutated gene that causes the uncontrolled cell growth that leads to cancer. With this discovery, Weinberg pioneered the molecular and genetic era of cancer research — a remarkable accomplishment given that the field was once considered to be a scientific backwater where few made any headway. And while basic research discoveries can take years to reach the bedside — if they ever do — Weinberg's unusually fertile career has already led to the development of Herceptin, the first "smart drug" to combat breast cancer. Based on Weinberg's 1981 discovery of the Neu protein, Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody treatment for patients suffering from an aggressive, recurring form of the disease.
"Cancer research pioneer! We take for granted that there is a molecular and genetic basis to cancer. It was once thought to be a virus in the 70s. However, Bob Weinberg illuminated the fundamental biology underlying this disease."