Image: Anne MacNamara

Donald Young, a physician and biochemist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, spent three decades conducting research into steroids and protein production in cells. He and fellow researchers Michael K. O'Banion and Virginia D. Winn spent the last 10 of those years identifying the human gene responsible for coding the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). They determined the mechanism by which the enzyme could be selectively inhibited, thus reducing inflammation and pain without unpleasant or dangerous side effects, such as gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding.1,2

Recognition for the Rochester researchers came in April 2000, when the three were named in a broad, pioneering patent that covers the method of activity of an entire class of popular drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors. The patent surprised the biotech and pharmaceutical industries; during the decade the team worked, patents had been granted to others for COX-2 inhibitors based on compositions...

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