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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 30, 2004

Stinski To Receive UI's First Distinguished Inventor Award

Mark Stinski, Ph.D., University of Iowa Distinguished Professor of Microbial Virology, has been named the first recipient of the University of Iowa Distinguished Inventor Award.

Stinski will be honored at a reception beginning at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, in the atrium of the Medical Education and Biomedical Research Facility (MERF). UI President David Skorton will present the award.

Stinski, a professor in the UI Department of Microbiology, will receive the award for his work in discovering the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter, a tool to "promote" the expression of proteins that are important in the production of various protein-based drugs now on the market.

Michael Apicella, M.D., UI professor and head of microbiology, said the discovery "transformed the modern approach to vaccines and therapeutics" and noted it was "part of the most important advance in medical therapeutics in the past three decades."

Stinski's UI laboratory was the first to clone the human cytomegalovirus genome into noninfectious DNA segments. The discovery facilitated the characterization of individual viral glycoproteins and viral regulatory proteins, which eventually led Stinski to his award-winning discovery.

The UI Research Foundation (UIRF) owns the patent rights to the CMV promoter and manages them on behalf of the University and Stinski. To date, the UIRF has entered more than 90 non-exclusive licenses with companies around the world. Since the 1990s, companies have used the CMV promoter to produce drugs to treat serious viral infections, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Fabry's disease and hemophilia, and to prevent acute organ rejection after a transplant. Stinski's CMV promoter is generally held to be the most effective promoter of its kind to date and may prove useful in a range of gene therapy applications. In addition, researchers worldwide routinely use it in genetic and cellular research studies. The UIRF does not seek compensation for research uses of the CMV promoter.

Bruce Wheaton, executive director of the UIRF, summed up the institutional rationale for the award to Stinski. "The invention arose from a distinguished body of research, and it helps make sick people better," he said.

Stinski received his doctoral degree from Michigan State University in 1969. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined the UI faculty in 1973.

The UI Distinguished Inventor Award was established to honor UI researchers whose inventions have arisen from a distinctive body of research conducted at the University and that has advanced the public good in identifiable ways.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032,