Napoleone Ferrara, M.D., is an Italian-American molecular biologist who joined University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center in 2013 after a storied career in Northern California at the biotechnology giant Genentech, where he pioneered development of new treatments for cancer and age-related macular degeneration. There, he discovered VEGFâ€”and made the first VEGF antibodyâ€”which suppresses growth of a variety of tumors. These findings helped lead to development of the first clinically available anti-angiogenesis inhibitor drug, bevacizumab, which prevents the growth of new blood vessels into a solid tumor and which has become part of standard treatment for a variety of cancers. Dr. Ferraraâ€™s work led also to the development of ranibizumab, a drug that is highly effective at preventing vision loss in intraocular neovascular disorders.
At UC San Diego Moores Cancer, Dr. Ferrara, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2006, serves as Senior Deputy Director for Basic Science and is a Distinguished Professor of Pathology in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, where he will continue cancer drug research targeting angiogenesis. He is presently focusing on investigating mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis alternative to VEGF, in particular the role of factors produced by myeloid cells and fibroblasts in mediating resistance to VEGF inhibitors.