Biotechnology Heritage Award

Stanley Cohen.

Stanley N. Cohen.

Stanley Cohen, Kwoh-Ting Li Professor of Genetics in the School of Medicine and professor of genetics and of medicine at Stanford University, received the 2016 Biotechnology Heritage Award. The award was presented on June 6, 2016, at the BIO International Convention, hosted by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

About Stanley Cohen

In November 1973 a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by Stanley N. Cohen of Stanford University and Herbert W. Boyer of the University of California, San Francisco, and their colleagues fundamentally transformed the disciplines of biology and chemistry and created the field of biotechnology. The paper described a methodology for propagating DNA in foreign hosts. With the invention of DNA cloning Cohen and Boyer showed that genes could be transplanted across what had been thought to be species barriers and reproduced by the genetic machinery of living cells. Their discoveries have provided a cornerstone for virtually all of modern biological and medical research, enabled unparalleled insights into the workings of genes and cells, and established the scientific foundation for a revolution in the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. Cohen and Boyer are named as inventors on the basic patents, held by Stanford University and UCSF, that underlie the field of genetic engineering.

In 1968 Stanley N. Cohen joined the faculty of Stanford University, where he began the study of plasmids—small circular pieces of DNA that are physically separate from the chromosomes that contain most of the genetic information of bacterial cells. Cohen devised methods for introducing molecules of plasmid DNA into bacteria. From this work came the concept of using plasmids as carriers for cloning foreign genes linked to them.

Cohen is the former chairman of the Department of Genetics at Stanford. He is the author of more than 360 scientific publications and the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the U.S. National Medal of Science, the National Medal of Technology, the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the Wolf Prize in Medicine, the Lemelson-MIT Prize, the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, and the Double Helix Medal. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a past chairman of its Genetics Section, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and the American Philosophical Society, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame. He is an Einstein Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and has received ScD honoris causa degrees from Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Cohen received a BS degree from Rutgers University and an MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. His postdoctoral training included research at the National Institutes of Health.

About the Biotechnology Heritage Award

The Biotechnology Heritage Award is presented yearly at a special ceremony during the BIO Annual International Convention to honor individuals who have contributed significantly to the growth of biotechnology through discovery, innovation, commercialization, and/or public understanding. In honoring these individuals the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the Biotechnology Industry Organization seek to encourage emulation, inspire achievement, and promote public understanding of modern science, industry, and economics in this rapid-growth area.

The cosponsorship of the award complements the mission of both organizations by advancing their mutual goals of educating the public, nourishing a sense of pride and community within the industry, and developing the record of the remarkable contributions the molecular sciences make to our lives.

About the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers, and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnology products.

About the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF)

CHF fosters dialogue on science and technology in society. Our staff and fellows study the past in order to understand the present and inform the future. We focus on matter and materials and their effects on our modern world in territory ranging from the physical sciences and industries, through the chemical sciences and engineering, to the life sciences and technologies. We collect, preserve, and exhibit historical artifacts; engage communities of scientists and engineers; and tell the stories of the people behind breakthroughs and innovations.

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