Stuart Orkin, MD

IRM Awards 3rd Elaine Redding Brinster Prize to Stuart Orkin, MD

Recognized for landmark discoveries of the molecular basis of blood disorders and using the basic science findings for therapeutic approaches, the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has awarded Stuart H. Orkin, MD the third Elaine Redding Brinster Prize in Science or Medicine. He elucidated the mechanism controlling the switch from fetal to adult hemoglobin, and reduced to practice reactivation of fetal hemoglobin as a therapeutic strategy for sickle cell disease and other blood cell disorders.

“Dr. Orkin has beautifully illustrated how a career of basic science investigation into the mechanisms for gene regulation can be applied, in one’s own laboratory, to a method for combating devastating human diseases. Notably, his discovery of unexpected details in how the fetal hemoglobin gene is regulated suggested insights for a therapy, for which he availed of the latest gene editing technologies to develop a specific clinical application for sickle cell disease,” said Ken Zaret, PhD, director of Penn’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Joseph Leidy Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in the Perelman School of Medicine. “We are thrilled that Dr. Orkin is the third awardee of the Elaine Redding Brinster Prize.”

The prize, supported by an endowment from the children of Elaine Redding Brinster, is awarded annually to a researcher whose singular discovery has made a unique impact on biomedicine. Each winner receives $100,000, a commemorative medal, and an invitation to present a ceremonial lecture at the University of Pennsylvania.

Orkin will accept the prize March 13, 2024, as part of the day-long Ralph L. Brinster Symposium. The symposium will feature several eminent speakers from across the biomedical sciences, including Titia de Lange, PhD, of the Rockefeller University; Carla Shatz, PhD, of Stanford University; Alejandro Sànchez Alvarado, PhD, of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research; and Marianne Bronner, PhD, of the California Institute of Technology.

Read more in Penn Medicine News

Larry Magid and his wife, Mickey, pledge $1M to the IRM.

Larry Magid and wife Mickey pledge $1M to the IRM

Q: What do concert promotion and research funding have in common?

A: Both require spotting undiscovered talent—and giving them a stage!

As IRM Director, I have been proud to work with Department leaders at Penn to recruit and mentor amazing scientists and build a community around regenerative medicine research. Our Institute is fortunate to have such talented people among our ranks, and we are constantly searching for ways to support great science and pathways to cures.

Recently, the IRM received an extremely generous $1M pledged gift from legendary concert and tour promoter Larry Magid and his wife, Mickey. Larry and Mickey are true Philadelphia champions, choosing to build the musical arts right here in our city. Larry is responsible for founding the iconic Electric Factory concert venue and changing the way we experience music. During more than six decades in the industry, he produced countless concerts—including the Atlantic City Pop Festival and the world-famous Live Aid benefit—and helped launch the careers of some of the biggest names in popular music. Larry is a man who knows talent, and I couldn’t be happier that he and Mickey have chosen to support the IRM.

In honor of their generosity, the IRM is searching for the next big idea in regenerative medicine. We are currently accepting applications for the Mickey and Larry Magid Innovation Award, a $50,000 grant earmarked specifically for a high-risk, high-reward project. We hope that all interested IRM faculty members will apply.

Great research, like great music, means taking chances. Thanks to the generosity of Mickey and Larry, the IRM will continue to support our scientists as they take their best ideas and turn them into hits.