Ladenson to receive inaugural Chancellor’s award for innovation

Jack H. Ladenson, PhD, has been chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis.

Ladenson, the Oree M. Carroll and Lillian B. Ladenson Professor of Clinical Chemistry in Pathology and Immunology and professor of clinical chemistry in medicine, will be presented with the award at the annual Faculty Achievement Awards program in December. At the same event, Gary J. Miller, PhD, professor of political science in Arts & Sciences, will receive the Arthur Holly Compton Faculty Achievement Award, and John C. Morris, MD, the Harvey A. and Dorismae Hacker Friedman Professor of Neurology, will receive the Carl and Gerty Cori Faculty Achievement Award.

The Chancellor’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will be given on an occasional basis to a faculty member whose research has led to the successful development of an idea or business that has brought great benefit to others.


“Jack Ladenson is an oustanding selection to receive this inaugural award recognizing innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “His extraordinary creativity and dedication to his work have led to both improvements in health care and to the creation of a successful commercial technology. We are fortunate to have him among our esteemed faculty.”

The new award stems from the university’s involvement in entrepreneurship and technology transfer. Several faculty, including Ladenson, have brought their research into commercial enterprise.

“Dr. Ladenson was chosen for this award because he has a career-long history of innovation and the commercialization of the intellectual property that has resulted from those innovations,” says Evan Kharash, MD, PhD, vice chancellor for research and the Russell and Mary Shelden Professor of Anesthesiology. “His discoveries have benefited people with heart disease, and indirectly benefited his ongoing research enterprise, the university and many other individuals as well through his philanthropic activities.”

Ladenson has two issued U.S. Patents and nine patent applications pending.

In the mid-1980s, Ladenson’s lab developed a monoclonal antibody that bound to a form of an enzyme, creatine kinase (CK-MB), produced mainly in heart cells. After the antibody was licensed to a number of companies and further developed, it became widely used in hospitals throughout the developed world as a test to diagnose heart attacks.

Later, Ladenson’s lab developed monoclonal antibodies and tests based on them for myoglobin and troponin I. Analysis for troponin is now standard of care for patients with suspected heart attacks. His laboratory is now developing antibodies and assays for assessing brain injury.

He has put the revenue from the tests to multiple good uses, including the endowment of three faculty chairs at the university: the Oree M. Carroll and Lillian B. Ladenson Professor of Clinical Chemistry, the Conan Professor of Laboratory Medicine and the Ladenson Professor of Pathology. In addition, two undergraduate scholarships at Washington University have been established for students from underdeveloped countries.

Outside of his laboratory work, Ladenson is deeply involved in working with health-care workers in underdeveloped countries, particularly Eritrea and Bhutan, to improve clinical laborabory and pathology testing for the underserved. In 1996, he began working with the not-for-profit Pathologists Overseas Inc.

In 1997, Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital began to serve as the reference laboratory for the country of Eritrea. If a clinical test was needed in Eritrea and the test substance in the patient’s sample can survive the transport from that country (about 48 hours), Ladenson devised a system to have the test performed with Barnes-Jewish Hospital equipment and interpreted by WUSTL faculty. This system was important in setting priorities for which tests would be performed within the country to avoid wasting valuable resources.

He also worked with in vitro diagnostic companies to arrange donation of millions of dollars in clinical laboratory equipment and reagents for a number of countries. He is a senior adviser to the Ministry of Health in Eritrea and helped to create that country’s first medical school.

Following the report of a chronic disease evaluation team lead by Jason Goldfeder, MD, assistant professor of medicine, and Dave Windus, MD, professor of medicine and associate dean for medical education, educational programs in diabetes nutrition and nurse and physician education were devised for Eritrea and Bhutan. Together with Windus and Melvin Blanchard, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the residency program in the Department of Internal Medicine, one-month rotations in Eritrea or Bhutan for internal medicine residents and medical students (Bhutan only) have been established and are planned to expand to other disciplines.

Ladenson is developing a quality assurance and monitoring system for clinical laboratories in underdeveloped countries that is being tested in Bhutan, Eritrea and Uganda.

Ladenson joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1972 as assistant professor of pathology and of medicine and assistant director of clinical chemistry in the Division of Laboratory Medicine at Barnes Hospital. He became professor of pathology and immunology and of clinical chemistry in medicine in 1984, and in 1993 was named the Oree M. Carroll and Lillian B. Ladenson Professor of Clinical Chemistry in Pathology and Immunology. He is also an adjunct professor of health sciences at the University of Zimbabwe.

Ladenson earned a doctorate in analytical chemistry at the University of Maryland and completed postdoctoral training at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn.

He has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Community Service Award from the School of Medicine; the IFCC/Bayer Wishinsky Award for Distinguished International Service; the Distinguished Service Award from the Washington University Medical Center Alumni Association; the Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry Award, the Outstanding Contributions to Education and the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry in a Selected Area of Research, all from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry; and Mentor of the Year Award of the Academic Women’s Network of the School of Medicine.


Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.