Penn Center for Innovation

Penn’s Dr. Jean Bennett is the Life Sciences PA 2020 Scientific Achievement Award Winner

Posted on February 19, 2020 — Jessica Jones Gupta

Dr. Jean Bennett has been named the recipient of the Life Sciences PA Scientific Achievement Award, to be presented during the Life Sciences PA Annual Dinner March 19 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

The Life Sciences PA Scientific Achievement Award recognizes a scientist in the Pennsylvania life sciences community who has demonstrated outstanding achievement by advancing scientific knowledge, innovation, and/or patient care. The honoree is chosen by a selection committee from the academic research community. 

Internationally recognized for her pioneering translational research in the field of ocular gene therapy, Dr. Jean Bennett conducts translational research on blinding diseases. Bennett led studies in a dog model of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a rare genetic eye disorder that results in nearly complete vision loss.

This work provided the data to support the transition to human clinical trials for three separate groups, including hers. Results from her trials were the first to demonstrate reversal of blindness in children with the disease and also the ability to safely treat the second eye. Her studies also demonstrated a heretofore unrecognized plasticity of the visual cortex in its ability to respond to signal derived from the gene-corrected retina.

Bennett’s team was the first to initiate a Phase 3 gene therapy trial for a genetic disease in the U.S. The remarkable safety and efficacy data from this trial led to the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of a gene therapy product targeting a genetic disease, LUXTURNA® (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl) (12/19/2017). The European Medicines Agency shortly thereafter approved LUXTURNA as a drug. This is the first gene therapy product approved worldwide for a retinal disease and the first recombinant viral vector in the U.S. to be delivered directly to humans.  

Join Penn and Life Sciences PA in congratulating Dr. Bennett at the 2020 Annual Dinner on March 19 at the Pennsylvanian Convention Center.  Register here.

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