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."
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.