18th Annual Fishman Fund Award ceremony celebrates the next generation of biomedical trailblazers

| Written by Susan Gammon
2019 Fishman Fund Award winners, left to right: Jennifer Hope, Ph.D., Aaron Harvas, Ph.D., Mafalda Loreti, Ph.D.

Three talented early-career researchers were presented with a prestigious Fishman Fund Award at the annual ceremony on September 19. More than 100 generous benefactors, past award winners and family and friends joined the celebration held at the Sanford Consortium. The awards honor the Institute’s founders, Dr. William and Lillian Fishman.

Reena Horowitz, who along with her close friend Mary Bradley established the Fishman Fund Awards, welcomed the audience and shared how the Fishmans truly believed that young researchers need a boost from time to time—and that these awards do exactly that. Recipients who are selected from a pool of Sanford Burnham Prebys postdocs use the $10,000 stipend to attend workshops, network and travel to national and international conferences to learn about the latest developments in their research fields. 

“The young researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys make discoveries that have an impact in San Diego as well as helping advance science and health around the world,” said Horowitz. “The Institute motto could not ring truer: From Research the Power to Cure.”

Professor Hudson Freeze—one of the very first Fishman Fund Award winners and now director of the Institute’s Human Genetics Program—shared how his nearly 40 years of research has established him as a magnet for a global community of families seeking treatments for rare childhood diseases. He encouraged this year’s winners to take advantage of working in a world-class research center and to pursue meaningful research that will open new avenues to improve human health.

Jennifer Hope, Ph.D., was presented with the Lenka Finci and Erna Viterbi Fund Prize by Horowitz and Institute supporter Judy White. Dr. Hope works in the laboratory of Professor Linda Bradley, where she is studying cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive the development of T cells that attack cancer. Jennifer’s career goal is to become an independent investigator focused on research to promote patient responsiveness to cancer therapies.

Mafalda Loreti, Ph.D., was presented with the Jeanne Jones and Kathryn Fishback Fund Prize by Fishman Fund co-founder designee Jeanne Jones and longtime Institute supporter Sam Horowitz. Dr. Loreti is studying the mechanisms that promote muscle growth and repair in the laboratory of Associate Professor Alessandra Sacco. Her career goal is to become an independent researcher in an academic setting, where she will explore the biology of muscle pathologies and approaches to improve muscle health.

Aaron Havas, Ph.D., received the Reena Horowitz and Mary Bradley Fishman Fund Prize from Horowitz and Institute supporter Doreen Schonbrun. Dr. Havas works in the lab of Professor Peter Adams, where he studies how aging affects gene regulation. His career goal is to work in the biotech industry exploring drugs that target the process to promote healthy aging.

Since the fund’s inception in 2001, 64 prizes have been awarded. Every other year, a 24-month fellowship that provides salary support is given to a deserving postdoc. The fellowship was awarded in 2018, so it will be given again at next year’s ceremony.

The generosity of our Fishman Fund donors enables the tradition of providing career advancement opportunities. On behalf of all of us at Sanford Burnham Prebys, we thank you for your support.