Drs. High and Bennett
Katherine High, MD (left) and Jean Bennett, MD, PhD (right) receive the Sanford Lorraine Cross Award. Photo Credit: Lisa Johansen Aust/Sanford Health News.
By Kristen Mulvihill
Scheie Vision Summer 2019

In December 2018, Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, the F.M. Kirby Professor of Ophthalmology, and Katherine A. High, MD, President of Spark Therapeutics, received the $1 million Sanford Lorraine Cross Award for their cutting-edge work that led to the first gene therapy for an inherited disease. 

The inaugural Lorraine Cross Award, presented by Sanford Health, honors medical leaders who transform global health through a revolutionary breakthrough, treatment, or innovation. 

Beside their team of researchers, Drs. Bennett and High worked to develop Luxturna, a gene therapy for retinal degenerations caused by the RPE65 gene mutation. This therapy restored vision in children and adults with the mutation, reversing an inherited form of blindness. 

The treatment, which was developed in collaboration with Spark Therapeutics, received historic approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2017.

Drs. Bennett and High accepted the Lorraine Cross Award during a ceremony in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Sanford Health is a non-profit, integrated health system with hospitals and clinics in three countries. Sanford Health created this biennial award to celebrate pioneering breakthroughs in medicine and medical care, and to honor the individuals who devote their lives to the health and healing of others.  


Drs. High and Bennett interview process

Photo Credit: Jay Pickthorn/Sanford Health News.

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