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2015 Kadesch Prize

In 2011, the Department of Genetics established the "Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetics" to honor the legacy of our friend and colleague Dr. Tom Kadesch. Dr. Kadesch was a member of the Genetics department from 1984 until his death in 2011, and served as Interim Chairman for his final 4 years. He was not only an excellent scientist, but also a tremendously dedicated mentor, teacher and University citizen whose contributions inspired those around him. In his memory, with the help of many generous donors, we were able to set up an endowed fund that will support in perpetuity an annual award to "a graduate student demonstrating excellence in research achievement and citizenship". 


OldridgeWe are pleased to announce that this year's Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetic Research has been awarded to Derek Oldridge. Derek is a current MD/PhD student in the Genomics and Computational Biology (GCB) graduate group, and is performing thesis work in the lab of Dr. John Maris. His research focuses on the genetic causes of neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood tumor. He identified a causal variant affecting GATA transcription factor binding in an enhancer region of the LMO1 gene, accounting for LMO1 association with inherited risk for neuroblastoma. He also discovered a high prevalence of activating Ras-MAPK mutations in relapsed neuroblastoma, which suggests new avenues for treatment. These projects resulted in first-author publications in Nature and Nature Genetics. In addition to his research accomplishments, Derek has made very important contributions to the genetics and genomics training programs at UPenn. As a teaching assistant for the large class GCB535/Introduction to Bioinformatics, Derek helped faculty design the “hands on” curriculum, gave lectures and dedicated many hours to tutoring students of varied backgrounds. His assistance helped pave the way for many of these students (and their labs) to integrate more computational and genomics techniques into their research programs. Derek also helped lead the popular student-run “Programming boot camp”, mentored junior students in the lab, and played an active role in GCB MD/PhD admissions.




The Kadesch prize was presented to Mr. Oldridge at a special session of the Genetics Friday Research Talks on November 20, 2015 (12:30pm in Austrian Auditorium CRB). In addition to receiving a $1000 cash prize, Mr. Oldridge presented a short seminar on his research.

2015 Kadesch Prize Committee

Shelley Berger, Douglas Epstein, Mitch Lazar, Celeste Simon, Meera Sundaram