Darwin J. Prockop, M.D., Ph.D. was awarded the inaugural ‘ISCT Career Achievement Award in Cellular Therapy’ by the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT), the global society of clinicians, researchers, regulatory specialists, technologists and industry partners dedicated to the translation of cellular therapy into safe and effective therapies to improve patients’ lives.
Prockop received the award at the ISCT 2016 Annual Meeting in Singapore, May 25 – 28, where he presented on “The Exciting Prospects of New Therapies with Mesenchymal Stromal Cells” in the Presidential Plenary session.
The annual award is drawn from a shortlist of nominees from the over 1,300
international members of ISCT based in over 50 countries. The final decision was made
by the ISCT Awards Committee, comprising eight international senior figures across the cell therapy sector. Prockop was proposed by Daniel Weiss, M.D., Ph.D. Professor of
Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine Department of Medicine, University of Vermont
and Donald Phinney, Ph.D. Acting Chairman, Department of Molecular Therapeutics,
Scripps Research Institute.
“Dr. Prockop is the grandfather of cellular therapy research in particular on
mesenchymal progenitors, such as MSC. The ISCT Awards Committee was in
unanimous agreement that Dr. Prockop should receive this inaugural award before
anyone else,” said Massimo Dominici, M.D. ISCT President. “He has contributed so
much over such a long and active career to stem cell research that the cell therapy
landscape would look completely different without his involvement. He has single
handedly inspired a whole generation of young scientists, myself included. I am
delighted that ISCT will recognize his achievements and career.”
Prockop has a distinguished career of 63 years. Since receiving the Fulbright scholarship at Oxford University in 1953, he has most notably been inducted as a member of a member of the Academy of Finland in 1990, the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (USA) in 1991, the National Academy of Medicine (USA) in 1992 and the National Academy of Inventors (USA) in 2015. He has authored or co-authored over 600 papers, and been cited over 44,000 times.
Prockop is a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Medicine and the Stearman Chair in Genomic Medicine in the Texas A&M College of Medicine, where he also serves as Director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas. He received his A.B. in Philosophy from Haverford College in 1951 and a M.A. in Animal Physiology from Brasenose College at Oxford University in 1953. He was awarded his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1956. He has worked at the National Institutes of Health from 1956-1961 while earning a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from George Washington University. He rose to rank of professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania from 1961-72. He was Chair of Biochemistry at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey from 1972-1986. He was also Chair of Biochemistry and Director of the Jefferson Institute for Molecular Medicine at Jefferson Medical College from 1986-1996, Director of the Center for Gene Therapy at Hahnemann/Allegheny/Drexel from 1996-2000 and Director of the Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University Health Science Center from 2000-2008.
Prockop is one of a few select scientists that has achieved notoriety in two different disciplines – biochemistry and stem cell research. He studied Collagen I and II mutations in humans, specifically relevantly adding discoveries in studying Collagen I in bone. He discovered a genetic mutation causing some cases of osteoarthritis. He was a pioneer in recognizing the role of mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSC) as tissue progenitors and discovered possible uses of these cells to treat bone diseases in humans hypothesizing that these cells can restore damaged tissues also by producing ‘humoral factors’.
Prockop’s work on collagen spans protein structure and function relationships to molecular genetics and has contributed to novel treatment options for collagen-related diseases. He developed sensitive methods to detect mutations in collagen genes, and established a genetic testing center within his laboratory that screened patients suspected of having rare connective tissue-related diseases including brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta) and Marfan syndrome.
Prockop established the first MSC-centric scientific meetings in 2001 through a partnership with the International Society of Cell Therapy (ISCT), believed to provide the spark that ignited the MSC field. Prockop’s pioneering work opened many new avenues of investigation in the field including use of MSCs for treating neurological diseases, spinal cord injury and lung diseases. He continues to be a strong advocate for MSCs in the scientific community, continues to call for responsible conduct of human clinical trials, and continues to publish thought provoking and ground breaking studies in the field.
“Dr. Prockop, who has been conducting scientific research for over five decades, continues to exhibit amazing productivity and is an inspiration to all scientists. His vibrant enthusiasm for scientific discovery remains infectious, and he possesses an unending desire to mentor young people. Even in the face of a natural disaster – Hurricane Katrina destroyed his research labs in 2005 – he persevered by demonstrating unrivaled leadership skills,” said Donald G. Phinney, Acting Chairman, Department of Molecular Therapeutics, Scripps Research Institute. Phinney, who nominated Prockop for the award, is a former faculty member at the Center for Gene Therapy in New Orleans, which Prockop directed from 2000-2008.
Official press release by International Society for Cellular Therapy.