The highest honor given by the Society for In Vitro Biology is the Lifetime Achievement Award. It is presented to scientists who are considered pioneers or highly influential researchers to the science and art of cell culture. They are men and women who have devoted their careers to exemplary research and/or teaching. The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award are selected by vote of the Board of Directors from a list of nominations recommended by the Awards Committee. The Society for In Vitro Biology honored Dr. J. Denry Sato and Dr. Gregory C. Phillips with SIVB Lifetime Achievement Awards at the 2017 In Vitro Biology Meeting in Raleigh, NC. This issue highlights Dr. J. Denry Sato’s career. Dr. Gregory Phillip’s career will be highlighted in a future issue of the In Vitro Report.

J. Denry Sato, D. Phil

2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Dr. J. Denry Sato

Dr. J. Denry Sato, scientist for the Manzanar Project Foundation, was recipient of the Society for In Vitro Biology 2017 Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award.  Dr. Sato was recognized for his significant scientific career that spans over 35 years of pioneering contributions to in vitro biology and applications to human disease and cancer treatment.  These pioneering accomplishments include, but are not limited to:

  • development of defined media and growth conditions for hybridoma and stem cells;
  • development of an FDA-approved EGF receptor monoclonal antibody for human cancer treatment;
  • characterization of a cancer cell line vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF);
  • molecular mechanisms activating the cystic fibrosis trans-membrane conductance regulator (CFTR)

Dr Sato holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Sussex, Brighton England and a doctoral degree in Genetics from Oxford University.  He has served in positions at the University of California, the Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope, the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center, the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and the Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory.

Dr Sato and colleagues developed serum-free media specific for hybridomas and stem cell culture while at the University of California, San Diego, and they showed that the epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling pathway and growth factor signaling pathways generally were potential targets for cancer therapeutics. The product of this research was the first FDA approved monoclonal antibody to human EGF receptors (Erbitux/ Cetuximab) to treat advanced colon cancer as well as a hybridoma cell selection method based on cholesterol auxotrophy.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Dr. J. Denry Sato (Center), with his colleagues (L to R) Tetsuji Okamoto, Ahn Le, Sandra Schneider, and Miho Furue.

Dr. Sato and his colleagues independently discovered a novel endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF), produced by a malignant human epithelial cell line that activated specific receptors. Subsequently, scientists at Genentech made the FDA-approved monoclonal antibody (Avastin/bevacizumab) to VEGF for treatment of colon, lung and brain cancers.  As Deputy Director of the National Stem Resources at ATCC, Dr. Sato contributed significantly to program development and setting standards that are still on-going and state-of-the-art.

Dr. Sato’s scientific publications include over 100 peer-reviewed articles, 5 patents, and 14 GenBank submissions.  In addition, he serves as ad hoc reviewer for numerous prestigious journals.  His fellowships and awards include: EP Abrahams Chemical Pathology Trust; an Institute of General Medical Sciences National Service Award; and SIVB Senior Investigator, Vertebrate Fellow and Distinguished Service Awards.  A contributing scientist, entrepreneur and consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Sato continues to teach/mentor undergraduate and graduate students.

An active, contributing and dedicated member of the TCA/SIVB since 1985, Dr. Sato has served as Reviewer, Associate Editor, Editor-in-Chief and Emeritus Editor-In-Chief of In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology/Animal; World Congress Scientific Advisory Board; Program Committee; symposium contributor; member Vertebrate and Cellular Toxicology Sections, (now IVACS); SIVB Board of Directors and valued member of the History & Records Committee.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognized Dr. Sato’s scientific achievements and pioneering excellence in medicine, fundamentals of cancer biology and development of in vitro cellular and molecular technologies.

The emeritus scientists that nominated and supported Dr Sato’s Life Time Achievement Award include: Dr. Peter Andrews, Dr. David Barnes, Dr. Neil Bols, Dr. Barbara Doonan, Dr. Miho Furue, Dr. Cynthia Goodman, Dr. Anh Le, Dr. Lucy Lee, Dr. Wallace McKeehan, Dr. Tetsuji Okamoto, Dr. Yvonne Reid, Dr. Sandra Schneider.  The American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) is recognized for their very generous support to fund this award for Dr. Sato.


Submitted by  Dr. Sandra L Schneider, DrPH, EMBA