National Academy of Sciences honors Dana-Farber Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center's Orkin

January 15, 2013


Stuart H. Orkin, MD, chairman of the department of pediatric oncology at Dana-Farber Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, will receive the Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal at the National Academy of Sciences' 150th Annual meeting in April.

The National Academy of Sciences is honoring Orkin for his pioneering achievements in defining the molecular basis of blood disorders and the mechanisms governing the development of blood stem cells and individual blood lineages. His work has significantly advanced the understanding of human hematologic diseases and revealed new strategies to prevent and manage these disorders.

The Kovalenko award, consisting of a medal and a prize of $25,000, is bestowed every three years by the National Academy of Sciences for "important contributions to the medical sciences." Orkin will receive the Medal at the annual meeting on Sunday, April 28, in Washington.

The first recipient of the Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal from either Dana-Farber or Boston Children's Hospital, Orkin joins notable previous winners from the field of hematology, including Nobel Prize winner George Whipple, Donald Metcalf, Irv Weissman and Janet Rowley. The Medal was last awarded to an HMS faculty member nearly 40 years ago.

"This award recognizes Orkin's contributions to the field of hematology over the past three decades, which have established him as the preeminent investigator in the field of molecular hematopoiesis," said David A. Williams, MD, Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Associate Chairman of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. "His contributions span the breadth of stem cell biology, hematology and molecular genetics. We are extremely pleased of this recognition for Orkin and are very proud of him and what he represents in our program."

Orkin received his medical degree in 1972 from Harvard Medical School, followed by postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health and clinical training in pediatrics and hematology-oncology at Boston Children's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he joined the faculty in 1978. Orkin is also the David G. Nathan Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Over the past two decades, his laboratory has defined critical nuclear regulators of blood cell development and differentiation, many of which are altered in human leukemias, and also discovered how the switch from fetal to adult hemoglobin in humans is controlled.

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