TARRYTOWN, New York – Columbia’s highest honor bestowed for Yancopoulos’ contributions to science and medicine. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.today announced that George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer, was awarded Columbia College’s Alexander Hamilton Medal, the highest honor awarded to a member of the Columbia College community for distinguished service and accomplishment in any field of endeavor.
“George is a generational talent as a life scientist, technology innovator and drug developer. His abilities as a biotech leader, combined with his remarkably synergistic and long-term partnership with Len Schleifer, are the major drivers behind Regeneron’s extraordinary growth and contributions to human health over the years,” said Nobel Prize winner and Regeneron board member Michael S. Brown, M.D., Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Sciences and Regental Professor of Molecular Genetics and Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Biography & Career Accomplishments
Yancopoulos, the son of Greek immigrants and a life-long New Yorker, attended New York City public schools and graduated as valedictorian of the Bronx High School of Science, where he was a top winner of the nation’s premier high school science competition, then known as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He became valedictorian of Columbia College in 1980, where he received the Eisenhower award as the school’s top scholar-athlete while serving as captain of the crew team. Yancopoulos then received his M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he was chosen to represent his doctoral class as commencement speaker. He launched his career as an academic scientist with Frederick W. Alt at Columbia, publishing seminal papers in molecular immunology.
In 1989, Yancopoulos left academia to join Leonard S. Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D., his Co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Regeneron. Under their leadership, Regeneron has become one of the most admired and innovative companies in biotech, with seven FDA-approved medicines since 2008, and a pipeline of over twenty additional investigational products – all homegrown in the company’s own laboratories. In the last twenty years, fewer than 100 biotech companies have invented and successfully obtained FDA approval for even one drug, and only a handful have done this four or more times. Regeneron medicines include the blockbusters EYLEA® (aflibercept) Injection and Dupixent® (dupilumab). Regeneron medicines are used to treat vision loss, asthma, atopic dermatitis, heart disease, arthritis and cancer, and the National Institutes of Health recently announced the effectiveness of Regeneron’s investigational Ebola virus infection therapy.
Yancopoulos takes an unusually hands-on approach to drug discovery, serving as lead inventor and developer. He works closely with key members of his team to invent Regeneron’s medicines and their underlying foundational technologies, such as the VelociGene® “knockout” platform, the VelocImmune® human antibody mouse, and the Veloci-Bi™ bispecific antibody creation platform. During the 1990s, he was among the ten most highly cited scientists in the world, with landmark publications pertaining to the cloning and biology of numerous growth factors and their receptors (from the Neurotrophins, Angiopoietins, and Ephrins to the CNTF receptor and the Agrin receptor, MUSK), on the elucidation of the mechanism of action of the cytokine class of receptors, and other findings leading to the development of Regeneron’s medicines and technologies. His team continues to pursue cutting-edge research, such as through the Regeneron Genetics Center, a world-leading effort that has sequenced the exomes of nearly one million people and paired this information with de-identified medical records in the quest to identify new and improved treatment options.
Yancopoulos is passionate about giving back to the Columbia community and committed to supporting the next generation of great young scientists. He leads Regeneron’s numerous STEM education and mentorship programs, including a $100 million commitment to the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which was formerly sponsored by Intel and Westinghouse.
Yancopoulos was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 and into the Biotech Hall of Fame in 2014. He and Schleifer were selected as Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneurs of the Year” in 2016. Other accolades from Columbia include the Steven’s Triennial Prize for original medical research, the University Medal of Excellence and the John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement. Yancopoulos’ efforts have also been recognized at the company level, as Regeneron has routinely been listed by Forbes as one of the “Ten Most Innovative Companies in the World” and by Science magazine as either the 1st or 2nd Top Biopharma Company to work for over the past nine years.
Many of Yancopoulos’ fellow R&D leaders at Regeneron also have Columbia roots, including Drew Murphy, Ph.D. (Executive Vice President, Research), and Lynn MacDonald, Ph.D. (Vice President, Research), who are Yancopoulos’ co-inventors of the VelociGene and VelocImmune technologies; Christos Kyratsous, Ph.D. (Vice President, Infectious Disease and Viral Vector Technologies), who spearheaded development of Regeneron’s Ebola treatment; Ned Braunstein, M.D. (Senior Vice President, Regulatory, Pharmacovigilance and Risk Management), and David Weinreich, M.D. (Senior Vice President and Head of Global Clinical Development), who lead the Company’s regulatory and Global Development efforts; Israel Lowy, M.D., Ph.D. (Senior Vice President and Head of Translational Science and Oncology), who leads Regeneron’s clinical program in oncology; and Jay Markowitz, M.D. (Senior Vice President, Portfolio Management), who leads strategic direction.
About Regeneron Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for 30 years by physician-scientists, our unique ability to repeatedly and consistently translate science into medicine has led to seven FDA-approved treatments and numerous product candidates in development, all of which were homegrown in our laboratories. Our medicines and pipeline are designed to help patients with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, pain and rare diseases.
Regeneron is accelerating and improving the traditional drug development process through our proprietary VelociSuite® technologies, including VelocImmune® which uses a unique genetically-humanized mouse to produce optimized fully-human antibodies and bispecific antibodies, and through ambitious research initiatives such as the Regeneron Genetics Center, which is conducting one of the largest genetics sequencing efforts in the world.
For additional information about the company, please visit www.regeneron.com or follow @Regeneron on Twitter.