Pediatric immunologist receives prestigious annual award from American Philosophical Society

Organization for 'promoting useful knowledge' honors Dr. Jordan Orange

A pediatric immunologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has received a prestigious annual award from the American Philosophical Society, an organization founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin. Jordan S. Orange, M.D., Ph.D., received the Society's Judson Daland Prize on Nov. 13 for his contributions to research and treatment of inherited immune deficiency diseases.

The Judson Daland Prize for Clinical Investigation recognizes outstanding achievements in patient-oriented research. Honorees are nominated by chairs of clinical departments at a U.S. medical school or hospital and selected by a distinguished committee of biomedical researchers.

Dr. Orange's work involves the innate immune system, the body's first defense against life-threatening infections and diseases. His particular research focus is natural killer cells, a major component of the innate immune system, which have an inherent ability to destroy cancer or virus-infected cells. While in graduate school at Brown University, he discovered that natural killer cells produce cytokines, which are secreted immune signaling molecules, to participate in defending the body against viruses.

Dr. Orange has continued his research in natural killer cells as a pediatrician, defining the field of human diseases caused by inherent deficiencies of natural killer cells. These include diseases in which only natural killer cells are defective, or where they are defective along with other components of immunity.

One example is Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, a difficult to treat, life-threatening, immune-deficiency disease. Dr. Orange discovered a natural killer cell defect and its mechanism in these patients, which make them especially vulnerable to herpesvirus infections and blood cell cancers. He used this knowledge to develop a novel therapy that bypasses the cellular defect, and has begun a unique clinical trial of the treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

In addition to his laboratory research at Children's Hospital, Dr. Orange evaluates and cares for children with primary immunodeficiency diseases, a varied and complex group of disorders resulting from a congenital defect in some component of the immune system. Though it results in recurrent or severe infections, the child's underlying disease may go undiscovered for years until he or she receives an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Establishing an accurate diagnosis and providing therapy can dramatically improve outcome in these diseases and often provides a child with a relatively normal childhood and adult life.

Dr. Orange received the Daland Prize, including a $10,000 honorarium, during an award presentation on Nov. 13, at the American Philosophical Society's headquarters in center city Philadelphia. The prize commemorates Judson Daland, a prominent Philadelphia physician and medical researcher, who left a bequest to the Society to support clinical research. As part of that fund, the Society has awarded Judson Daland Fellowships since 1938, and established the annual prize in 2001.

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