Newswise — New York, NY (September 29, 2022) – The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will award its inaugural 2022 Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research to cancer and HIV cellular therapy pioneer Carl H. June, MD, for his groundbreaking work in immunotherapy. Dr. June is most widely known as one of the inventors of CAR T cell therapy for cancer, which has already led to FDA-approved treatments for lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma.

Dr. June will receive a prize of $20,000 and will present the Maria I. New Distinguished Lecture during a ceremony to be held in New York City in November.

Dr. June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, and Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, all at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The prize is meant to honor medical pioneers in the tradition of Dr. Maria I. New, whose achievements demonstrated over six decades of outstanding commitment to breakthrough research.

“Carl June’s discoveries helped usher a new era in cancer treatment options,” says Mone Zaidi, MD, PhD, MACP, Director of Mount Sinai's Center for Translational Medicine and Pharmacology, and Mount Sinai Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who chaired the international jury that awarded the Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research. “As its inaugural recipient, Carl exemplifies a distinguished scientist whose achievements have led to a transformative treatment paradigm for otherwise debilitating cancers, and by doing so, has upheld the legacy of Dr. Maria New and her lifetime contributions.”

Chimeric antigen receptor T cell immunotherapy (CAR T), which Dr. June helped create, is a type of cancer therapy that harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. T cells, a type of white blood cell, are removed from the patient and reprogrammed to recognize and attack cancer cells when returned to the body. Today, six CAR T cell therapies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and clinical trials targeting many additional cancers are underway worldwide. 

In the early 1990s, Dr. June began studying T cells in HIV-positive patients and patients with AIDS. He discovered that he could take T cells from a patient with AIDS, grow them in the lab, give them back to the patient, and their T cell counts would improve. His “eureka” moment came when he realized these CAR T cells could survive in patients and multiply without spreading HIV.

“The pandemic has emphasized the importance of biomedical research. One critical way to accelerate medical innovation is to ensure that we’re recognizing leading biomedical researchers: they are at the forefront of advancements in medicine, seeking answers to the most pressing needs in human health and helping millions of people live longer, healthier lives,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning author and economic historian Dr. Daniel Yergin, who, along with his wife, foreign policy expert Dr. Angela Stent, generously supported the prize.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the prize, developed in honor of the revered Dr. New, a giant in pediatric endocrinology and a global role model in combining breakthrough research with clinical impact. And the extraordinarily impactful work of Carl June epitomizes the value of Maria New’s life work and the outstanding contributions to medicine that this award will recognize.” 

Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Director of The Friedman Brain Institute, Dean for Academic Affairs at Icahn Mount Sinai, and Chief Scientific Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, says, “It is an honor for the Icahn School of Medicine to host this new biomedical research award in recognition of one of our long-time star faculty members.”

“Through this annual prize, we celebrate the values exemplified by Dr. New and her transformative research at both the bench and bedside for over 60 years while also recognizing the work of exceptional physician-scientists who have made or are likely to make seminal contributions to patient care,” Dr. Nestler says. “We are delighted to contribute to biomedical research with this award, which is open to applicants from around the world. And we are profoundly grateful to Dan Yergin and Angela Stent for making it possible.”

The prize winners are selected by an international jury of prominent science community members. It is administered by Mount Sinai’s Center for Translational Medicine and Pharmacology, in conjunction with the Departments of Pediatrics, Medicine, and Pharmacological Sciences, under the dedicated leadership of Dr. Zaidi.

The jury members are Nobel laureate Aaron Ciechanover, MD, DSc, Distinguished University Professor at The Rappaport Family Technion Integrated Cancer Center in Haifa, Israel; Nancy Andrews, MD, Executive Vice President, and Chief Scientific Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital; Nancy Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean, Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut; Bert W. O’Malley, MD, Tom Thompson Distinguished Service Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chancellor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas; and Anna Wedell, MD, PhD, Professor of Medical Genetics in the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

“We extend our sincere gratitude to the distinguished members of the international jury for their precious time and effort in selecting a winner from a wide pool of outstanding nominees,” Dr. Zaidi says.

The Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research

The Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research was created in honor of the esteemed career of Maria I. New, MD, one of the world’s foremost pediatricians and a devoted member of the Mount Sinai community. It will be awarded annually to distinguished biomedical researchers for lifetime scientific achievements that have led, or may lead to, new ways to prevent and treat human disease. The award is generously supported by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and economic historian Dr. Daniel Yergin and his wife, foreign policy expert Dr. Angela Stent.

The nomination cycle for the 2023 Prize begins on February 1, 2023, and closes on May 31, 2023. To learn more about the nomination process, contact Susan Babunovic at [email protected].  

Maria I. New, MD, Biography

Over the past half-century, Maria I. New, MD, has earned a reputation as one of the nation's leading pediatric endocrinologists. Her studies of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)—a deficiency in the adrenal system that causes gender ambiguity in females and precocious sexual development in males—have led to treatments to correct the disorder before the baby is born. Her groundbreaking identification of a new form of hypertension, “apparent mineralcorticoid excess,” has resulted in a new area of receptor biology.

Since joining the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City in 2004, Dr. New has continued her work as a Professor of Pediatrics and of Genetics and Genomic Sciences. She is also the Founding Director of Mount Sinai’s Adrenal Steroid Disorders Program.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, among several other prestigious academies, Dr. New has demonstrated a lifetime dedication to biomedical research and clinical care, and her training of a generation of pediatricians and endocrinologists continues to have a far-reaching impact on the lives of patients and the medical community at large.

About the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is internationally renowned for its outstanding research, educational, and clinical care programs. It is the sole academic partner for the eight- member hospitals* of the Mount Sinai Health System, one of the largest academic health systems in the United States, providing care to a large and diverse patient population. 

Ranked 14th nationwide in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and among the 99th percentile in research dollars per investigator according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Icahn Mount Sinai has a talented, productive, and successful faculty. More than 3,000 full-time scientists, educators, and clinicians work within and across 34 academic departments and 35 multidisciplinary institutes, a structure that facilitates tremendous collaboration and synergy. Our emphasis on translational research and therapeutics is evident in such diverse areas as genomics/big data, virology, neuroscience, cardiology, geriatrics, as well as gastrointestinal and liver diseases.

Icahn Mount Sinai offers highly competitive MD, PhD, and master’s degree programs, with current enrollment of approximately 1,300 students. It has the largest graduate medical education program in the country, with more than 2,000 clinical residents and fellows training throughout the Health System. In addition, more than 550 postdoctoral research fellows are in training within the Health System. 

A culture of innovation and discovery permeates every Icahn Mount Sinai program. Mount Sinai’s technology transfer office, one of the largest in the country, partners with faculty and trainees to pursue optimal commercialization of intellectual property to ensure that Mount Sinai discoveries and innovations translate into healthcare products and services that benefit the public.

Icahn Mount Sinai’s commitment to breakthrough science and clinical care is enhanced by academic affiliations that supplement and complement the School’s programs.

Through the Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP), the Health System facilitates the real-world application and commercialization of medical breakthroughs made at Mount Sinai. Additionally, MSIP develops research partnerships with industry leaders such as Merck & Company, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and others. 

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is located in New York City on the border between the Upper East Side and East Harlem, and classroom teaching takes place on a campus facing Central Park. Icahn Mount Sinai’s location offers many opportunities to interact with and care for diverse communities. Learning extends well beyond the borders of our physical campus, to the eight hospitals of the Mount Sinai Health System, our academic affiliates, and globally.

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*  Mount Sinai Health System Member Hospitals: The Mount Sinai Hospital; Mount Sinai Queens; Mount Sinai Beth Israel; Mount Sinai West (previously known as Mount Sinai Roosevelt); Mount Sinai Morningside (previously known as Mount Sinai St. Luke’s); Mount Sinai Brooklyn; New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai; and Mount Sinai South Nassau (previously known as South Nassau Communities Hospital).

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