Stuart Orkin (1950– ), the chair of Pediatric Oncology at Boston’s prestigious Children’s Hospital and one of the lead researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and chief investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is known for his pioneering achievements in the study of the cellular structures of the blood system. The analysis and definition of the molecular structure of blood cell development is central not only in stem cell research but in the broader field of controlling and treating a range of genetic blood disorders, including sickle-cell anemia, thalassemia, and multiple forms of cancer.

For more than three decades, top-flight research teams led by Orkin have sought to crack the mysteries of gene switching, that is, the gradual process by which blood stem cells evolve ...

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