Dr. Kerbel has made multiple contributions in three different areas of research. The first involves the advancement of antiangiogenic therapeutics for which he is internationally recognized. These include understanding fundamental mechanisms of action of drugs that target the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin pathways, developing new more clinically relevant mouse tumor models to assess the activity of these (and other) drugs, understanding the basis of resistance to antiangiogenic agents, and uncovering mechanisms to help explain how they enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy. Second, Dr. Kerbel also has been at the forefront of pioneering the concept of metronomic chemotherapy whereby conventional chemotherapy drugs are administered at lower less toxic doses on a more frequent schedule over prolonged periods of time without any extended break periods. The concept has now gone all the way through evaluation at the randomized phase III clinical trial level and has been found to be effective as a maintenance (follow-up) therapy in colorectal and breast cancer patients with either early or late stage disease after they have received conventional upfront maximum tolerated dose/pulsatile chemotherapy. Third, the metastatic models that Dr. Kerbel’s lab has developed, up until recently, all involved the growth of human tumor cell lines or patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) in immune suppressed mice. The lines have been distributed to over 60 labs around the world in both academia and industry and have thus become an international resource for cancer research to study the basic biology and treatment of metastasis. A more recent initiative in Dr. Kerbel’s lab is to develop similar models of early and late stage metastatic disease involving mouse tumors grown in immunocompetent syngeneic mice that thus permit assessment of immunotherapy strategies including vaccines and immune checkpoint inhibitors.
For his achievements Dr. Kerbel has been awarded the 2004 Canadian Cancer Society Robert Noble Award for Excellence in Cancer Research, the Breast Cancer Research Award from the European Institute of Oncology in 2008, a Man of Distinction Honor by the Israel Cancer Research Fund in 2011, and the Colin Thomson Memorial Medal from Worldwide Cancer Research in 2013. He was a recipient of a tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Tumor Biology, Angiogenesis and Antiangiogenic Therapy from 2001-2015.
Dr. Kerbel’s contributions have also been recognized by the over 850 invitations to give lectures around the world since he began his career, his numerous memberships on scientific peer review journal editorial boards, and memberships on scientific advisory boards in both industry and academia.