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2018 Judson Daland Prize

The prize was presented to Kiran Musunuru at the American Philosophical Society 2018 November Meeting, in recognition of his work discovering and therapeutically targeting cardiovascular disease genes.

Man receives prize
APS president Linda Greenouse (left) and prize committee chair Clyde F. Barker (right) present the award to Kiran Musunuru (center).

Dr. Musunuru has discovered and characterized novel genes involved in coronary artery disease, including SORT1 and ANGPTL3. He has also pioneered the use of genome-editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas9 to study these genes in human stem cells and to develop one-shot “vaccinations” against cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.

Dr. Musunuru has pioneered the use of genome-editing tools to probe the mechanisms of disease. His laboratory was the first: to develop an efficient platform to use genome-editing tools to genetically modify human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) and use differentiated isogenic hPSCs for disease modeling; to demonstrate the superior efficacy of CRISPR-Cas9 to previous types of genome-editing tools, as well as the favorable off-target mutagenesis profile of CRISPR-Cas9; to demonstrate the high degree of efficacy of CRISPR-Cas9 in living mammals in vivo; to demonstrate the efficacy of CRISPR-Cas9 in human cells in vivo; and to demonstrate the high degree of efficacy of “base editing” (a newer, safer form of genome editing) in living mammals in vivo. He has used CRISPR-Cas9 and other genome-editing tools to study a variety of disease-related genes – including SORT1 and ANGPTL3 – in hPSC models and mouse models, gaining crucial insights into their functions. The approaches demonstrated in his laboratory are now used by many laboratories to study a wide variety of diseases.

Dr. Musunuru received a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences at Rockefeller University, an M.D. at Weill-Cornell Medical College, and a Master of Public Health in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is an Associate Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The prize is named for Dr. Judson Daland, born in 1860, a prominent Philadelphia physician and outstanding figure in medical research who left the bulk of his estate to the Society to support research in clinical medicine. The prize recognizes outstanding achievement in clinical investigation, particularly patient-oriented research.

The selection committee consisted of Clyde F. Barker (Chair), Donald Guthrie Professor of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania; Lawrence H. Einhorn, Distinguished Professor, Livestrong Foundation Professor of Oncology, Professor of Medicine, Indiana University; Ronald M. Fairman, The Clyde F. Barker - William Maul Measey Professor of Surgery, Chief of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, Vice-Chairman for Clinical Affairs, Department of Surgery, Professor of Surgery in Radiology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; and John N. Loeb, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Columbia University.