GPI "Stem Cell Action Award" Honorees Advancing Stem Cell Research, Funding and Advocacy

9th Annual Stem Cell Action Awards to be presented at World Stem Cell Summit, December 5, 2013 in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 6, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- This year's Stem Cell Action Award honorees, announced today, have funded millions of dollars in stem cell research; raised the standard in medical research journalism; and worked to educate patients, researchers and the entire stem cell community.

The 2013 Stem Cell Action Award honorees:

  • Leadership Awards: Denny Sanford and Malin Burnham, philanthropists, involved with Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
  • National Advocacy Award: Dr. Paul Knoepfler, professor, researcher and founder of, which educates patients and the public about stem cell research
  • Education Award: Mary Ann Liebert, publisher of biomedical journals, including Stem Cells and Development
  • Inspiration Award: Roman Reed, activist for stem cell research funding

Since 2005, Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) has honored the stem cell community's top innovators, leaders, and champions at the Stem Cell Action Awards Dinner at the annual World Stem Cell Summit. The awards will be presented at the 9th Annual Stem Cell Action Awards dinner, Tuesday, December 5, during the 2013 World Stem Cell Summit (WSCS13) at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, in San Diego, California.

"The work done by this year's honorees has directly advanced stem cell research through research, funding and advocacy. They are passionate about making change and we are proud to honor their achievements," said Bernard Siegel, Executive Director of GPI. "These five honorees are sharing knowledge, building infrastructure and supporting the research needed to find cures and alleviate human suffering." Previous Stem Cell Action awardees have included Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Research!America, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Michael J. Fox, Robert Klein, Sherry Lansing, Susan Solomon of The New York Stem Cell Foundation, A. Alfred Taubman and the National Association of Biology Teachers. For a full list of previous awardees, please visit

The Stem Cell Action Awards Dinner is open to the public. For information about sponsoring or attending the Stem Cell Action Awards, or to register for the World Stem Cell Summit, visit

Meet the 2013 Stem Cell Action honorees:

Denny Sanford (Leadership Award) - Denny Sanford has focused his philanthropic endeavors on health care and medical research. His total giving now totals more than $850 million. In 1986, Mr. Sanford purchased United National Corporation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (now First Premier Bank) and expanded it, along with a new credit card company, Premier Bankcard. Today, he supports research programs across the U.S. including Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls; T. Denny Sanford Mayo Clinic Pediatric Center in Rochester, MN; and the T. Denny Sanford Pediatric Center at Florida Hospital for Children. He also donated funds to the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. In California, he supports Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, the Salk Institute and the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

Malin Burnham (Leadership Award) - A dedicated philanthropist, Malin Burnham has chaired major non-profits, co-founded organizations and serves as Board Member of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and Chair of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, among many other appointments. Chairman of John Burnham & Company Insurance and Burnham Real Estate since 1949, Mr. Burnham is a native San Diegan who graduated from Stanford University in 1949 with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Burnham Real Estate was acquired by Cushman & Wakefield in 2008. He has been active as a board member of several major corporations and 16 firms. Mr. Burnham also served as Trustee of Stanford University for 10 years.

Dr. Paul Knoepfler (National Advocacy Award) - Dr. Paul Knoepfler is an Associate Professor in Cell Biology and Human Anatomy at the UC Davis School of Medicine. He leads the Cancer Stem Cell Initiative at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is a member of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures. Dr. Knoepfler is also an Associate Investigator of the Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine at Shriners Hospital of Northern California. As a cancer survivor, he advocates for cancer patients and those interested in stem cell treatments. His stem cell blog,, is a public education and patient advocacy tool read by a diverse cross-section of the stem cell community. His outreach efforts include offering a stem cell whitepaper in 28 languages. His book, Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide will be published this year. Dr. Knoepfler received a B.A. in English Literature from Reed College and his Ph.D. from UCSD School of Medicine in Molecular Pathology.

Mary Ann Liebert (Education Award) - Mary Ann Liebert is the president and CEO of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., a media empire known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in promising areas of science and biomedical research. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), debuted in 1980, was the first in its field, and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. Stem Cells and Development is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal dedicated to developments in the biology, characteristics, and therapeutic utility of stem cells. Many journals she publishes intersect the field of regenerative medicine, contributing to the scholarship and advancing stem cell science. Ms. Liebert is also the founder and executive vice president of the Rosalind Franklin Society, which recognizes and advances important contributions made by women in the life sciences.

Roman Reed (Inspiration Award) - Roman Reed has been the inspirational guiding force for raising over $100 Million dollars for stem cell and neurological research. President of the Roman Reed Foundation, Roman was paralyzed playing college football in 1994. He has been fighting to advance awareness and research ever since. Mr. Reed, along with his father, Don Reed, created the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act, which established California state funding for research for a spinal cord injury paralysis cure. "Roman's Law" funded early human embryonic stem cell (hESC) clinical trials and raised $14 million in its first 10 years, creating several scientific breakthroughs. California's "Roman's Law" was so successful, it has now become a model for other states. Mr. Reed was instrumental in creating and passing the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Act in Alabama, which generates funding for research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Mr. Reed is involved with many public/private partnerships, including the Roman Reed Core Laboratory at UC Reeve-Irvine Research Center and The Stanford Partnership for Spinal Cord Injury and Repair. Mr. Reed has a BA in American Studies with an emphasis on Politics and Leadership from the University of California, Berkeley.

ABOUT GPI: The Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) supports stem cell research to develop therapeutics and cures. GPI pursues its mission by honoring leadership through the Stem Cell Action Awards, producing the World Stem Cell Summit, publishing the World Stem Cell Report, organizing educational initiatives and fostering strategic collaborations. For more information about GPI, visit

ABOUT THE WORLD STEM CELL SUMMIT: The 2013 World Stem Cell Summit is presented by GPI and is co-organized by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Scripps Research Institute, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Kyoto University Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS). The Summit is the flagship meeting of the international stem cell community. The 2013 Summit will be held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, in San Diego, California, December 4-6, 2013. For more information, visit

Media Contact: Bernard Siegel,, 561-578-5975.


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