Throughout the Second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference, the Vatican and the Stem for Life Foundation honored individuals whose dedication and courage advanced the paradigm shift towards regenerative medicine. Such achievements were made through scientific research, business investments, and enduring treatment as patients.
Pontifical Key Awards:
Professor Silviu Itescu received the Key Innovator Award for his leadership and ingenuity in
translational science and clinical medicine with adult stem cell therapy. He has established an outstanding reputation as an active faculty member of Melbourne and Monash Universities in Australia and as a physician scientist in the fields of stem cell biology, autoimmune diseases, organ transplantation, and heart failure. As Mesoblast’s Chief Executive Officer, the company has grown to become the world’s largest regenerative medicine company and is in late-stage development of biotherapeutics based on its broad, proprietary adult mesenchymal precursor cell technology platform for a diverse range of intransigent diseases.
With recognition of his wisdom and forward thinking in scientific discovery, the Key Visionary Award was presented to Dr. Sol J. Barer for his visionary leadership of the stem cell field and his pioneering of adult stem cell therapy innovation. Through his leadership at Celgene Corporation for more than two decades, Dr. Barer made key investments in the development of stem cell technologies, investigating placental-derived cell and biomaterial technologies in clinical trials. He is committed to the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel human cellular-based therapeutic products for the treatment of severe and debilitating diseases. Like many, Dr. Barer believes that adult stem cell research validates the growing promise that these cells will cure an increasing number of diseases in our lifetimes.
Dr. W. E. Bosarge began his generous support of SFLF during the First Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference. His devotion, generosity, and support of adult stem cell research earned him the Key Philanthropy Award at the Second Vatican Conference. Dr. Bosarge is the author of over 20 scientific papers and holds both B.S. and M.S. degrees in applied mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology as well as a Ph.D. degree in applied mathematics from Brown University. Dr. Bosarge is active in supporting various research efforts in the treatment and prevention of cancer.
The 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine winner, Sir John Gurdon has made many admirable contributions to science. Dr. Gurdon received the Key Scientific Award at the April Conference. He studied nuclear transplantation in the frog Xenopus with Michael Fischberg, Ph.D., and obtained the first clone of genetically identical adult vertebrate animals and demonstrated genetic totipotency of somatic cell nuclei. He did postdoctoral work at Cal-Tech (Pasadena, California) on bacteriophage genetics. He later became the head of Cell Biology at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and initiated the Cancer Research Campaign Unit of Molecular Embryology. In 1990, he moved to the new Wellcome CRC Institute of Cancer and Developmental Biology in Cambridge and served as chairman from 1990 to 2001. In 2001, the Institute was renamed The Gurdon Institute. From 1995 to 2002, Dr. Gurdon was master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and governor of the Wellcome Trust from 1995 to 2000.
Pontifical Hero Awards
Born with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), Elizabeth was given a dire prognosis. Children with OI usually grow no taller than three and a half feet and have severe bone deformities. Most spend their lives in wheelchairs and even the slightest jolt or bump can cause their bones to fracture, causing incredible pain. However, Elizabeth has fought the disease through participation in an innovative treatment under Dr. Edwin Horwitz, using her father’s adult stem cells to encourage her growth. While under treatment, Elizabeth grew six inches and was able to leave her wheelchair.
The first child to receive a stem cell supported trachea transplant, in March 2010 at Great Ormond Street Hospital in the United Kingdom, Ciaran continues to do well post-transplant. Like Elizabeth, Ciaran was also given a dire prognosis at birth. He was diagnosed with long segment tracheal stenosis, a condition that leaves sufferers with a very narrow windpipe and difficulties breathing. Dr. Paolo De Coppi, part of Ciaran’s transplant team, believes that the success of Ciaran’s procedure points to a future in which these cells can be used to grow more complex organs which are made up of different types of tissues.
When her country called, Patricia answered and served her fellow citizens with great honor. When an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Haiti and the world looked away, Patricia embraced the millions of men, women, and children living in camps or on the streets. When the Revelation Network, a vital media channel for churches, people, and communities needed to develop the latest technologies in their quest to close communication gaps between interfaith clergy and their congregations, Patricia was there. She has been a leader with strength, wisdom, and humility, and was recognized at a special ceremony in New York City.
Muhammad Ali, one of the most beloved international sports figures of all time, has remained active as a philanthropist and ambassador of peace since retiring from boxing in 1981. Amongst countless charitable acts, Mr. Ali has delivered medical supplies to Cuba, provided meals to the world’s hungry, and helped secure the release of U.S. hostages during the first Gulf War. Whether through the Muhammad Ali Center, which he co-founded with his wife, Lonnie Ali, or the Athletes for Hope not-for-profit organization, Mr. Ali has been a tireless advocate for Parkinson’s Disease and the healing potential of adult stem cell therapies.