Stuart Orkin awarded The Shaw Prize in Life Science & Medicine 2024 for groundbreaking hemoglobin research

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Stuart Orkin, MD, a researcher at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and David G. Nathan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, has been honored with The Shaw Prize in Life Science & Medicine for his pioneering work discovering the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying the switch from fetal to adult hemoglobin. Dr. Orkin shares the prize with Swee Lay Thein, PhD, Senior Investigator and Chief of the Sickle Cell Branch of National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Shaw Prize, often referred to as the "Nobel of the East," honors individuals "who have made outstanding contributions in academic and scientific research or applications.” Established in 2002 by Mr. Run Run Shaw, a philanthropist, The Shaw Prize recognizes excellence and innovation in scientific research on a global scale.

"Receiving The Shaw Prize is an honor and a testament to the dedication of countless researchers who have contributed to our understanding of hemoglobin regulation over the years. This recognition underscores the potential of our findings to revolutionize the treatment landscape for sickle cell anemia and β thalassemia, offering new hope to patients worldwide," says Orkin.

Dr. Orkin's discoveries made possible the world's first FDA-approved therapy using CRISPR/Cas9 – Casgevy. The therapy is intended to treat patients with sickle cell anemia and β thalassemia, debilitating blood disorders affecting millions worldwide. It works by knocking down a gene called BCL11A, a mechanism discovered by Dr. Orkin's team in 2008 that enables fetal hemoglobin production to restart and represses sickled hemoglobin.

This release was adapted from Boston Children's Hospital.

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Stuart Orkin, MD