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2017 Alumni Awards

Thank you to all who could join the Stanford Medicine Alumni Association in honoring  this year's distinguished alumni for their exceptional service to Stanford Medicine and outstanding lifetime contributions to medicine and the biomedical sciences: Susan Marqusee, Diana W. Bianchi, and Max S. Wicha.


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Alumni Awards and 2017 Recipients

Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences

In 2010, the Stanford University Medical Center Alumni Association Board of Governors established an award to recognize the lifetime achievements of Stanford University School of Medicine alumni in the biomedical sciences. This award carries the names of Arthur Kornberg, MD, and Paul Berg, PhD, in recognition of their pioneering contributions to medicine and their service to Stanford.

In 1959, Dr. Kornberg came to Stanford as chair of the newly established Department of Biochemistry. In the same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine along with Severo Ochoa for their work in elucidating how DNA is built. These basic studies paved the road to recombinant DNA and genetic engineering, now important elements in the treatment of cancer, viral infections and many other conditions.

Dr. Berg also came to Stanford in 1959. His work with recombinant DNA, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980, helped launch the biotechnology industry. Drs. Berg and Kornberg brought to Stanford a passion for discovery, groundbreaking research, and a strong spirit of excitement and cooperation. They helped forge an environment that has produced generations of highly successful students and postdoctoral fellows, and in so doing, shaped the future of the School of Medicine. This lifetime achievement award honors their legacy.


Susan Marqusee, MD '90, PhD '90

Susan Marqusee is the Warren Eveland Chair and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, Division of Biophysics, Biochemistry and Structural Biology, at the University of California, Berkeley and the Berkeley Director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3). Dr. Marqusee received her A.B. in Physics and Chemistry from Cornell University in 1982, and her M.D. and Ph.D. (Biochemistry) from Stanford in 1990. After a post-doctoral fellowship at MIT, she joined the UC Berkeley faculty as Assistant Professor in 1992, advancing to Associate and Full Professor in 1998 and 2001, respectively.

Dr. Marqusee is one of the world’s top experimental scientists in the field of protein folding.  She is known for many contributions, including the first de novo design of a short peptide that folds into a specific structure (alpha helix), the application of novel hydrogen exchange methods to measure rare partially structured conformers, and the mechanical manipulation of single protein molecules. Her work has produced the most detailed view of the energy landscape of a protein, has validated the hierarchical model of protein folding, and has provided the experimental foundations for theoreticians working in the area. Her work impacts many other areas of research, ranging from the physical chemistry of macromolecules to the design of therapeutics that prevent the aggregation of proteins which lead to common diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Marqusee is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Biophysical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.  In 2011 and 2012, the San Francisco Business Times recognized her as one of the top 150 “Most Influential Women in the Bay Area” and in 2012, she received the ASBMB William Rose Award for Science and Mentorship.

J.E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine

In the summer of 1953, J. E. Wallace Sterling, president of Stanford University, persuaded the university trustees to move the School of Medicine from San Francisco to the main Palo Alto campus. The school was moved in 1959, and was transformational in its bringing together, in one location, the resources and pioneering breakthroughs of the School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital, and Stanford University. Stanford Medicine grew steadily in national stature until it attained and now holds a respected place in the front ranks of medical education, scientific achievement, and clinical medicine.

Many years following the move to campus, retired faculty surgeon Gunther W. Nagel, MD ’21, proposed that the school establish an award in Sterling’s name to recognize a distinguished graduate. In 1983, the Stanford Medicine Alumni Association Board of Governors conferred the first J. E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award, now presented annually to a Stanford University School of Medicine MD graduate in recognition of exceptional lifetime achievement in medicine.


Diana W. Bianchi, MD '80

Diana W. Bianchi is the Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. She is also an investigator in the National Human Genome Research Institute. Formerly, she was the Executive Director of the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center and a professor of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine. She was also Vice Chair for Pediatric Research at the Floating Hospital for Children, Boston.

Dr. Bianchi is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She received her M.D. from Stanford School of Medicine and her postgraduate training in Pediatrics, Medical Genetics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She is board-certified in all three specialties. Her clinical expertise is in prenatal and neonatal genetics and genomics.

Dr. Bianchi’s research focuses on noninvasive prenatal diagnosis using fetal and placental DNA sequencing and using information from fetal gene expression to develop novel fetal therapies for genetic disorders such as Down syndrome.  She has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles, and is one of four authors of the book Fetology: Diagnosis and Management of the Fetal Patient, which won the Association of American Publishers award for best textbook in clinical medicine in 2000. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis’ official journal, Prenatal Diagnosis.

Dr. Bianchi has received multiple awards, including the Christopher Columbus Spirit of Discovery Award and the Distinguished Faculty Award, both from Tufts University, the 2015 Neonatal Landmark Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the 2016 Maureen Andrew Award for Mentorship from the Society for Pediatric Research, and the 2017 Colonel Harland Sanders Award for lifetime achievement in Medical Genetics from the March of Dimes. In 2013 she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine. 


Max S. Wicha, MD '74

Nationally known for his research in the field of breast oncology, Dr. Wicha has been a major leader in the science of cancer stem cells. His lab was part of the team that first discovered stem cells in breast cancer, the first described in any human solid tumor. Subsequently his laboratory identified a number of cancer stem cell markers and developed in vitro and mouse models to isolate and characterize these cells, models which have been widely utilized in the field. His group has subsequently elucidated a number of intrinsic and extrinsic pathways which regulate stem cell self-renewal and cell fate decisions. This work has directly led to development of several clinical trials aimed at targeting breast cancer stem cells.

Dr. Wicha is also the founding director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, a position he held for 27 years. He was responsible for coordinating all cancer activities related to research and patient care.  Under his leadership, the UMCCC established itself as one of the nation’s premier cancer centers. In 2015, Dr. Wicha stepped down as the Cancer Center director enabling him to devote his full efforts to cancer stem cell research. In 2016, he was awarded an R35- Outstanding Investigator award from the National Cancer Institute to support his research in cancer stem cells.

Dr. Wicha received his bachelor’s degree in biology at State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1974 he received his MD from Stanford University School of Medicine followed by residency at University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics, and an oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. He has won numerous awards including honors from the American Cancer Society and the American Association for Advancement in Science.