Distinguished Alumni Award


Mark Stinski, PhD

Faculty/Staff Award 2020

Mark Stinski, PhD, devoted his career at the University of Iowa to the study of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a pathogen that can cause birth defects and infections in the immunosuppressed.

His laboratory discovered the CMV promoter, a mammalian gene expression enhancer that dictates the fate of HCMV infection. The CMV promoter has been used by research laboratories around the world and by pharmaceutical companies to facilitate high expression of proteins. The first successful therapeutic protein was Rituxan for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The CMV promoter patent generated more than $160 million. The patent's royalties helped the UI recruit at least five professors, retain senior faculty members, and establish the Mark Stinski Endowed Chair in Microbiology and Immunology and the Stinski Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

Stinski, who published peer-reviewed articles in top journals, was elected Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also received the Alexander Von Humboldt Award from Germany and conducted research at the Institute for Clinical and Molecular Virology in Erlangen, Germany.

The success of his teaching and mentoring is evident in his mentees, who have become leaders in biomedical research at academic institutions and biotech companies.

One of those trainees, Eain Murphy, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at SUNY Upstate Medical University, says: "Mark instilled a scientific ethic and sense of quality in each of his mentees. This led to a generation of Iowa-trained virologists who have made major contributions to a broad range of scientific fields."


About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.


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When Bernadine Franks (18BA) graduated from the University of Iowa in December, she fulfilled a 50-year-old promise to her mother. After having a baby at age 15 and marrying the following year, Bernadine promised her mother that someday she?d go to college. On December 15, 2018, as she walked across the stage to accept her diploma from the UI School of Social Work, the 67-year-old was backed by a legion of fans that include her children, grandchildren, co-workers, and others she?s inspired along the way. Now, future students will benefit from Bernadine?s example. The Bernadine Franks Scholarship has been established to support a scholarship for a non-traditional, underrepresented student in the University of Iowa School of Social Work. Give Now You can help aspiring Hawkeyes like Bernadine by making a gift to the to the Bernadine Franks Scholarship fund. Sara Sanders, director of the UI School of Social Work, says this scholarship will serve as a wonderful tribute. "Bernie was always a bright light shining in the school, a positive force, and a leader among her fellow undergraduate students. She not only brought her valuable experience into the classroom, but also matched the energy and optimism of her classmates. She became a mentor and a role model for many students, and she's someone they aspire to be like as professionals." Although Bernadine?s journey to becoming a Hawkeye was not an easy one, she is proud of her accomplishment. ?It means respect, it means showing others that if you work hard and if you believe in what you?re doing, you can achieve it. Regardless of my age, a degree from the University of Iowa carries a lot of weight.? Read more of Bernadine's story.

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