Merkin Prize honors Dr. Caruthers’ transformative work synthesizing DNA
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 4, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Dr. Richard Merkin, Founder and CEO of Heritage Provider Network, and members of the team at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, awarded Dr. Marvin Caruthers, of the University of Boulder Colorado, the inaugural Richard Merkin Prize in Biomedical Technology in a daylong celebration and gala dinner recognizing Dr. Caruthers’ groundbreaking work in synthesizing DNA.
Dr. Caruthers won the inaugural Merkin Prize in Biomedical Technology for developing automated technology for quickly synthesizing DNA that provided essential elements in the development of modern molecular medicine. These are used in genetic sequencing, drug and vaccine development, cancer diagnostics and many aspects of basic biomedical research. Without his methodologies, working with genetic material to study human health, diagnose and treat disease, synthesize DNA and RNA strands to detect pathogens, manufacture drugs and edit gene sequences would not be possible, paving the way for a genetics revolution.
“I’m so pleased and proud to honor Dr. Caruthers with the inaugural Merkin Prize in Biomedical Technology. The biotech industry would not be what it is today if it weren’t for Dr. Caruthers,” Dr. Merkin said. “The Broad would not be what it is, or maybe even exist, if it weren’t for Dr. Caruthers. His work demonstrates the type of technology used in the life sciences that impacts patients’ care and has significantly advanced healthcare for millions, the purpose of the prize.”
“I’m extremely honored that I was chosen from an equally important number of colleagues who could have received this prize,” said Dr. Caruthers. “It’s a very high honor for me to have been selected for this prize. The research we’re being recognized for, people worldwide in almost every biology and biochemistry laboratory use our chemistry in one way or another,” he continued.
The Merkin Prize, which recognizes novel technologies that have improved human health, carries a $400,000 cash award. The prize was created by the Merkin Family Foundation and is administered by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. More than fifty technologies and scores of scientists from around the globe who invented them were nominated for the 2023 Merkin Prize. Those nominations were evaluated by the selection committee, composed of eight scientific leaders from academia and industry in the US and Europe and jury chair Dr. Harold Varmus, Nobel laureate.
“There are a lot of prizes in biomedical science, but very few of them are focused on technology,” Dr. Varmus said. “Yet we all know as scientists that it’s technology that drives discovery. In this case the prize is designed to honor not just technologies that are exciting in the laboratory, but technologies that have had an impact on public health and clinical care.”
“Like Eli Broad, Dr. Merkin is one of those rare philanthropists who is not only generous, but also sees the value in being patient and investing in technologies and fundamental science that someday will pay off and benefit humanity,” said Todd Golub, Director and founding core institute member of the Broad Institute. “He’s been one of our most important partners, making much of what we do here at the Broad possible.”
At an afternoon science symposium, Merkin Institute fellows and other prominent scientists including Dr. Caruthers spoke about their innovative work.
“We really want to introduce chemical synthesis to introduce much more diverse chemical language into the intricate design of mRNA therapeutics, which could have a really big potential in many diseases,” said Xiao Wang, MIT chemistry professor, Broad Institute core member and Merkin fellow. “I’m really thankful for the support of the Merkin fellowship,” she said. “It is because we had the fellowship that we could buy our very first DNA and RNA synthesizer in the lab.”
Nominations are now open for the 2024 Merkin Prize in Biomedical Technology. Learn more here.
About the Merkin Family Foundation
The Merkin Family Foundation was founded by visionary health care executive Richard Merkin, MD.
Richard Merkin, MD is the founder and CEO of Heritage Provider Network, Inc. (HPN). HPN is one of the largest physician founded and physician owned managed care organizations in the country dedicated to value-based healthcare delivery improvements. HPN develops and manages coordinated, patient-doctor centric, integrated health care systems that offer some of the strongest solutions for the future of health, care, and cost in the United States. HPN and its affiliates operate in New York, California, and Arizona, providing high-quality, cost-effective healthcare with over one million patient members. HPN is dedicated to quality, affordable health care, and putting patients’ wellness first.
About Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Broad Institute was launched in 2004 to empower this generation of scientists to transform medicine. The Broad Institute seeks to describe the molecular components of life and their connections; discover the molecular basis of major human diseases; develop approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics; and disseminate discoveries, tools, methods, and data to the entire scientific community.
Founded by MIT, Harvard, Harvard-affiliated hospitals, and the visionary Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Broad Institute includes faculty, professional staff, and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard biomedical research communities and beyond, with collaborations spanning over 100 private and public institutions in more than 40 countries worldwide.
SOURCE Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
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