Sanford Health panels narrow choice of $1M prize winner

By: Jacqueline Palfy .

St. Peter's Square at the Vatican
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

VATICAN CITY –- Members of the Sanford International Board met this week in Rome, Italy, as part of an international medical conference held at the Vatican.

The next time the board meets, it will be to determine the winner of a $1 million prize.

The Sanford Lorraine Cross Award will be given in December to recognize excellence in life-changing treatments, medical innovations and research. The award, which will be given for the first time this year and subsequently will be given every other year, is one of the top five most lucrative of its kind. Leaders form Sanford Health recently spoke about the award at “Unite to Cure: “The Fourth International Vatican Conference – How Science, Technology and 21st Century Medicine Will Impact Culture and Society.”

Micah Aberson, chief global brand officer, and David Pearce, Ph.D., executive vice president of research, both of Sanford Health, will present on the award at the conference, which runs through Sunday.

Candidates for the award are chosen through nominations from the public and a computer algorithm that sifts through medical publications in search of great discoveries. The first step in choosing a winner is for a scientific panel to narrow down the candidates and make a recommendation to the international board.

Panel members

Members of the scientific panel:

  • Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., University of Florida, expert in type 1 diabetes and immunology.
  • Michelle Baack, M.D., Sanford Health, expert in neonatology and perinatal medicine.
  • Kym Boycott, M.D., Ph.D., Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, expert in rare inherited neurological pediatric diseases.
  • John Dunlap, Ph.D., Amgen, expert in degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Deborah Fowell, Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center, expert in immunology.
  • Alison Freifeld, M.D., University of Nebraska Medical Center, expert in infectious diseases.
  • Marilyn Glassberg Csete, M.D., University of Miami, expert in rare lung diseases.
  • David Pearce, Ph.D., Sanford Research, expert in rare diseases including Juvenile Batten disease.
  • William Pearce, Ph.D., Loma Linda University School of Medicine, expert in perinatal biology.
  • Susan Rheingold, M.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, expert in acute lymphocytic leukemia, experimental therapeutics and clinical trials.
  • David Sinclair, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, expert in aging and age-related diseases.
  • Clive Svendsen, Ph.D., Cedars-Sinai, expert in regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies.
  • Joshua Wynne, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., expert in development of research and academic enterprises.

“The members of this panel represent so many disciplines,” Sanford Health’s Pearce said. “It’s unusual to bring together such a diverse group, but we wanted to make sure we had representation from various areas to bring fresh eyes to the research and help think outside of the box when it comes to finding a winner.”

Later this year, the Sanford International Board will hear presentations from the award front-runners, with the winner announced in December at a special event in Sioux Falls.

“We know that breakthroughs don’t come easily,” said Kelby Krabbenhoft, Sanford Health president and CEO. “But we also know that these big bang moments are what drives health care and healing forward, and we want to recognize the people who are making that happen. This award is our first step.”

The award is named after the Lorraine Cross, a symbol recognized around the world synonymous for those who take action for their passions. In recent history, Sanford Health has used it to symbolize innovation in health care. An award made from French Lorraine crystal, antique stone and the melted remnants of an original Sanford Health X-ray machine will accompany the $1 million prize.

For information, visit

To learn more about Unite To Cure: The Fourth International Vatican Conference, please visit: Or, you can follow the event on Twitter @CuraFdn and on Facebook at, and join the conversation with #UnitetoCure.

More stories

Fourth International Vatican Conference

Posted In Lorraine Cross, News, Research