The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center

What's New 2006

Dr. Anirban Maitra-2006 Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist

Good Evening and Welcome to the Maryland Science Center-I'm Van Reiner, President and CEO of the Maryland Science Center and we're here tonight to award the Allan C. Davis medal to Maryland's Outstanding Young Scientist.

The Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist award program was established in 1959 to recognize and celebrate extraordinary contributions of young scientists in Maryland. Many previous recipients of these awards have gone on to distinguished careers in science including one recipient who is now a Nobel laureate.

Along with a monetary award, the Maryland Science Center Outstanding Young Scientist receives the Allan C. Davis medal. Mr. Davis was a distinguished chairman of the board from 1959 until1966 and a gift from his family allowed us to build the Davis Planetarium as part of the current Maryland Science Center that opened at this location in 1976.

The award had been given annually until 1998 when the program was suspended while the Maryland Science Center entered into a strategic planning and capital expansion program. Now, as we mark the Science Center's 30th anniversary here at its Inner Harbor location it is only fitting to return the award to its annual status.

While it is the accomplishments of the Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist that ultimately decide which nominee is given the award, there are two other qualifications that must be met: He or She must be a Maryland resident and he or she can be no older than 35. The nominees are reviewed and discussed at length by judges from our Scientific and Educational Advisory Council and it is their group who chooses the award winner.

Our Scientific and Advisory Council is headed by Dr. Robert Cotter who is a professor in the department of pharmacology and molecular sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The council is a policy and programming advisory group that helps the Maryland Science Center review its exhibits and programs, and their content, for accuracy and educational value. The Scientific Council is composed of scientists, researchers, teachers, physicians, engineers and other professionals from the fields of science, education, and technology. In just a few moments I'll ask Dr. Cotter, who is with us tonight, to join me for the award presentation.

Tonight's recipient of the Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist award and Allan C. Davis medal is an Associate Professor of Pathology and Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He was born in 1972 and lives in Kensington Maryland. He has published 139 peer-reviewed publications, 12 invited reviews, and 22 book chapters. He has 7 provisional patents or notices of invention and holds 6 active grants from the National Institutes of Health. He teaches second year medical students, graduate students, residents, and fellows at Johns Hopkins. In his nomination letter it was said that perhaps the most remarkable thing about this year's recipient is that he is "one of the world's nicest human beings-in an age of cutthroat competition he is extraordinarily collaborative."

Tonight's Outstanding Young Scientist is also a gifted researcher who focuses on one of the most difficult diseases of all diseases to study-aggressive forms of cancer and pancreatic cancer specifically. It is estimated that 1 in every 5000 Marylanders develops cancer each year and Maryland owns the sixth highest cancer death rate in the nation.

Tonight's awardee's research has led to several new potential treatments for pancreatic cancer. His work focuses on genetics since pancreatic cancer is fundamentally a genetic disease. His research has provided key insights into the mechanisms underlying the genetic changes that characterize pancreatic cancer. He then develops new therapies which exploit these changes to target pancreatic cancer cells selectively, without harming normal cells. His award winning writings on his work have been published in Nature, The American Journal of Pathology, Genome Research, and many other noteworthy journals.

Clearly our award recipient's research and scholarship qualifies him for the award. His work is truly groundbreaking and the respect and support of his peers cannot be overlooked. And his insistence on collaboration is extremely noteworthy. In short, he is the ideal recipient of the Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist Award.

Please join me in saluting this year's recipient of the Allan C. Davis Medal, Dr. Anirban Maitra-this year's Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist.