Ann Arbor’s A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute today announced Dr. Stephen L. Hauser as this year’s recipient of the $100,000 Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Research for his contributions to multiple sclerosis (MS) research.
Dr. Hauser, director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Weill Institute for Neurosciences and professor and chair of the department of neurology, receives the honor for his discoveries in highly effective drug treatment of MS.
For the 400,000 Americans affected by MS, the immune system attacks the protective myelin covering around their nerve cells, blocking transmission of impulses; this can result in visual impairment, weakness, numbness, and loss of coordination. Dr. Hauser and his colleagues’ research helped to discover that B cells, a type of immune cell, leads the attack on the myelin membrane.
Dr. Hauser and his colleagues tested drugs that target B cells and found improvement in patients with MS. Their research led to the development of the drug Ocrelizumab by pharmaceutical maker Genentech. Ocrelizumab, approved by the USFDA early this year, is a B-cell depleting drug that is safer and easier to administer. It is the first drug shown to be effective against primary progressive MS, the most disabling form of the disease.
“We salute Dr. Hauser for his persistence and original thinking about the causes and treatments of this life-altering disease,” says Dr. Eva L. Feldman, director of the Taubman Institute. “He exemplifies the brilliant and devoted physician-researcher who is motivated by concern for his patients to spend years, even decades in the lab seeking novel treatments that will bring new hope to millions of people worldwide.”
Hauser will accept the award and deliver a keynote talk at the Taubman Institute’s annual symposium on Oct. 20 in Ann Arbor. The event, located at the University of Michigan’s A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building is open to the public at no charge.
The symposium will also commemorate the tenth anniversary of the institute’s founding by A. Alfred Taubman, a businessman and philanthropist. The Taubman Prize was established in 2012 to recognize outstanding translational medical research outside the U-M. Each year a national panel of medical science experts selects a non-U-M clinician-scientist who they feel has done the most to transform laboratory discoveries into clinical applications for patients suffering from disease.