Photo of Paul A. Marks

Paul A. Marks

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For his contribution to hematology in defining the genetic basis for G6PD deficiency and thalassemia, and discovery of an approach to control cancer cell proliferation with new inducers of differentiation.

Paul A. Marks’ interest in clinical research began when he was a college student at Columbia University. Mark’s roommate at the time was working with Francis Ryan, a prominent genetics professor. “I started working on a problem in Ryan’s lab and really got hooked,” Marks said in an interview. “I loved the idea of finding answers to questions for which we didn’t immediately have an obvious answer.”

Early in his career, Marks devoted his research to uncovering the genetic and molecular defects responsible for hematologic disorders, such as thalassemia and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. After reading a paper on the chemical properties of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), Marks shifted his research to investigating how DMSO and other chemical compounds are capable of inducing cell cycle arrest, with the hope of identifying novel therapeutic anti-cancer agents.

Marks research led to the development of vorinostat, an anti-cancer drug that is in clinical trials to test against a wide range of cancer types. He continues his pursuit of new anti-cancer therapies, and furthering the fields of fields of genetics and oncology.

By Jen Santisi