Modell Chair in Pediatric Immunology Established

03/15/2011

Children’s Hospital recently announced the establishment of the Jeffrey Modell Endowed Chair in Pediatric Immunology Research.

A ceremony today at the Hospital’s Ruth and Tristram Colket, Jr. Translational Research Building recognized the first holder of the chair, pediatric immunologist Jordan S. Orange, M.D., Ph.D. The chair’s $2 million endowment will allow Dr. Orange to break new ground in his ongoing research. Dr. Orange is internationally prominent for studying and treating primary immunodeficiency disorders in children.

“We appreciate the generosity of Fred and Vicki Modell for their continuing support of Dr. Orange’s important work,” said Steven M. Altschuler, MD, chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital. “This gift will advance the efforts by Dr. Orange and the Jeffrey Modell Foundation to translate scientific knowledge into real improvements in children’s lives.”

Dr. Orange is already the director of the Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic Center at Children’s Hospital, a premier program among dozens of centers worldwide that have been established by the Jeffrey Modell Foundation to provide expert diagnosis and treatment to patients with primary immunodeficiency diseases. Co-founded by Fred and Vicki Modell in 1986, the Foundation honors the memory of their son Jeffrey, who died at age 15 from complications of primary immunodeficiency.

Primary immunodeficiencies include more than 150 genetic disorders in which the immune system’s ability to produce specific antibodies to fight off infection is greatly impaired or absent. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to preventing recurrent infections from doing permanent damage.

Dr. Orange’s research focuses on the biology of natural killer cells and the innate immune system, with a clinical focus on primary immunodeficiency disease. He has received funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the United States Immunodeficiency Network to support his laboratory work, and has authored over 100 scientific publications. In 2009 the American Philosophical Society awarded him the Judson Daland Prize for Clinical Investigation, which honors outstanding achievements in patient-oriented research.

Over the past decade, Dr. Orange has redefined the field of human natural killer cell deficiencies in various genetic disorders. He recently collaborated with European researchers who achieved marked clinical improvements in using gene therapy to treat young children with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, a rare but often severe immunodeficiency disorder. At Children’s Hospital, he is currently conducting clinical trials testing the use of immunotherapy to boost immune function in children with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.

In addition to his duties at Children’s HospitaL, Dr. Orange is on the Pediatrics faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.