WORCESTER, MA – Ronald Crystal, MD, of Weil Cornell Medical College, New York City, was presented with the Sten Eriksson Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award during a program at the University of Massachusetts this Saturday, April 20.
Crystal, who also gave a talk during the program, directed the 1980s research at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health that led to approval of augmentation therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Alpha-1 Foundation and the University of Massachusetts Medical School presented Saturday’s program entitled 50 Years of Research Toward a Cure for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency.
Everyone was invited to the free program – presented in non-scientific language easily accessible for all audiences – about the event-filled history of Alpha-1 and the most promising therapies in sight for treating and ultimately curing Alpha-1.
“We provided an overview of the past, present and future of research in Alpha-1,” said Terence Flotte, MD, dean, provost and executive deputy chancellor of the UMass Medical School, who hosted the event.
“The speakers were among the leading Alpha-1 clinicians and researchers in the world,” said John Walsh, president and CEO of the Alpa-1 Foundation. “We heard about cutting-edge research from some of the world’s finest ‘Alpha docs’ – but in language we non-scientists can understand.”
The presentation of the Eriksson Award was the highlight of the program, among the major events being held this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of Alpha-1 in 1963 by Swedish researchers Carl-Bertil Laurell and Sten Eriksson.
Crystal is only the 5th recipient of the Eriksson Award. The others were Eriksson himself; Harvey Sharp, who discovered the Alpha-1 link to liver disease; Magne Fagerhol of Norway, who did groundbreaking research to characterize the “Pi” system that is still used to describe Alpha-1 phenotypes; and Robin Carrell of New Zealand and the UK, for his longtime research on Alpha-1 and his mentorship of young investigators in the field of Alpha-1.
In addition to Crystal’s award, UMass School of Medicine presented a special award of appreciation to John Walsh “in recognition of innumerable contributions to research, patients and advocacy on behalf of the Alpha-1 community.”
The speakers and their topics:
Robert Sandhaus, MD, PhD, clinical director of the Alpha-1 Foundation and medical director of AlphaNet, “The Past, Present and Future of Alpha-1.”
Ronald Crystal, MD, “Therapy for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency with Protein or Gene.”
Darrell Kotton, MD, of Boston University School of Medicine, “Next Generation Regeneration: In Pursuit of Stem Cell Therapies for Alphas.”
Christian Mueller, PhD, UMass Medical School, “The Good, the Bad and the Augmentation of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin.”
And Dr. Flotte, “Clinical Gene Therapy Trials for Alpha-1.”
The event was held at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s new Albert Sherman Center, where visitors also got a chance to tour the new research lab being used by Flotte, Mueller, and other UMass researchers.
For further information, contact Sofia Mueller, Sofia.Mueller@umassmed.edu or (508) 856-4339.