The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine corresponding to the year 2008 has been conferred upon Dr. Joan Massagué for elucidating one of the fundamental processes that control cell division, namely, the machinery that conveys the growth inhibitory signal of TGF-beta from the cell membrane to the nucleus. Many of the components of the signaling transduction pathway have been identified and functionally characterized by Dr. Massagué. The TGF-beta pathway is crucial for the development of all animals, and when disrupted, contributes to diseases such as cancer.
Massagué and colleagues have also developed novel approaches to identify genes involved in organ- specific metastasis. These studies have considerably increased the understanding of metastasis and have great potential for clinical application, given that 90 percent of cancer-related deaths are due to this invasive process.