Owen N. Witte (MD ’76)

The Stanford Medicine Alumni Association has announced that Owen N. Witte, MD, will receive the prestigious Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences. He will be honored at a dinner held on the Stanford campus on December 5.

Owen Witte received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his MD from Stanford University. He completed postdoctoral research at MIT and then joined the faculty at UCLA, where he presently is a University Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and holds the President's Chair in Developmental Immunology. He is the founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.

Dr. Witte has made significant contributions to the understanding of human leukemias, immune disorders, and epithelial cancer stem cells. His work includes the discovery of tyrosine kinase activity for the ABL gene and the demonstration of the BCR-ABL oncoproteins in human leukemias. This has had practical impact in leading to the development of kinase-targeted therapy as an effective treatment for these leukemias and other cancers. His work also led to the co-discovery of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK), which is required for normal B-lymphocyte development, and when mutated leads to X-linked agammaglobulinemia, a form of immune deficiency. New inhibitors for BTK are entering clinical practice for the treatment of certain lymphomas and leukemias. Recent work has concentrated on defining the stem cells for epithelial cancers of the prostate and other organ sites to help define new types of therapy for these diseases.

Dr. Witte has received much recognition for his research, including the Milken Foundation Award in Basic Cancer Research, the Rosenthal Award of the American Association for Cancer Research, the Dameshek Prize of the American Society of Hematology, the Alpert Foundation Prize, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s de Villiers International Achievement Award, the UCLA Faculty Research Lecture, the Nakahara Memorial Lecture Prize, and the AACR G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award. He currently serves on several editorial and advisory boards, and previously served on the Board of Directors for the American Association for Cancer Research. He was recently re-appointed for his second term by President Obama to the President’s Cancer Panel. Dr. Witte is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine. 

The Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences honors the legacy of Arthur Kornberg, MD, and Paul Berg, PhD, medical science pioneers and Nobel laureates who brought to Stanford a passion for discovery and groundbreaking research. Established in 2010, this award acknowledges and celebrates the lifetime career achievements of Stanford University School of Medicine alumni in the biomedical sciences. Several previous winners have gone on to win other prestigious awards including the Nobel Prize.