MARCH OF DIMES AWARDS $250,000 PRIZE TO TWO SCIENTISTS WHO PIONEERED ADVANCES IN SKIN DISORDERS
Scientists to be honored in Boston include Brookline resident/Harvard MD
BOSTON, MA, MARCH 23, 2012 – Two researchers who once were student and teacher at Harvard Medical School will meet again in Boston to be honored by the March of Dimes for their work that has created crucial advances in the treatment of skin cancers, severe burns and other skin diseases.
Brookline resident Howard Green, MD, George Higginson Professor of Cell Biology, Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, and his former postdoctoral fellow, Elaine Fuchs, PhD, Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor, Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology & Development, Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, Rockefeller University, New York will be honored in April at a black-tie gala at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. The gala will be hosted by CBS sportscaster Greg Gumbel, an honorary member of the March of Dimes national Board of Trustees.
Dr. Green and Dr. Fuchs also will deliver the Seventeenth Annual March of Dimes Prize Lectures at the Hynes Convention Center during the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, here.
Dr. Fuchs began working in Dr. Green’s lab in 1977 and their professional relationship, has since transcended geography. Throughout their careers, they have shared their scientific findings; many of those findings have then translated into specific treatments. Their work has pioneered innovative technologies that explain the molecular underpinnings of skin stem cells and inherited skin disorders, including cancers and some birth defects.
“Taken together, the research of Dr. Green and Dr. Fuchs has expanded medicine’s ability to diagnose and understand the basis of many skin disorders, from cancer to inherited disorders to severe burns,” said Joseph Leigh Simpson, MD, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs at the March of Dimes. “Their work has saved the lives of thousands of burn patients and we hope their work with skin stem cells will lead to new ways to prevent and treat birth defects.”
Green, considered a founding father of regenerative medicine, developed a permanent skin restoration treatment that has saved the lives of thousands of burn victims. He previously developed the first therapeutic use of cells grown in a lab, and his work has laid the foundation for the discovery of genes that are responsible for genetic skin defects. He discovered that hybrid human and mouse cells lost their human chromosomes, leading to the methods used today for gene mapping.
Fuchs uncovered the genetic basis of blistering skin diseases and deciphered the characteristics of skin stem cells that allow their development into distinct tissues and organs. She also pioneered the use of reverse genetics, which studies protein functions and then determines which diseases occur when the proteins malfunction. Today, she studies how skin stem cells become activated to form hair and skin, how they adapt to heal wounds, and how mutations in the activation process can lead to skin cancers, such as pilomatrichomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Her pioneering work holds promise for possible therapies for baldness.
The March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology has been awarded annually since 1996 to investigators whose research has profoundly advanced the science that underlies the understanding of birth defects. The March of Dimes Foundation created the Prize as a tribute to Dr. Jonas Salk shortly before his death in 1995. Dr. Salk received Foundation support for his work to create a polio vaccine. The prize is a cash award of $250,000 and a silver medal in the
design of the Roosevelt dime, in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who founded the March of Dimes.
In its 17-year history, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology has been the crowning glory of a distinguished research career or a stepping stone on the path toward future honors for researchers. In fact, five past March of Dimes Prize recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize®.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.