Dr. Alan W. Flake, Director of Fetal Research, Wins March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology

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March of Dimes has awarded Alan W. Flake, MD, Director of the Center for Fetal Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the 2021 Richard B. Johnston, Jr., MD Prize in Developmental Biology. The yearly award recognizes an outstanding scientist who has advanced the science that underlies our understanding of pregnancy, birth, and prenatal development.

Alan W. Flake, MD Alan W. Flake, MD As a pediatric and fetal surgeon at CHOP, Dr. Flake is a leader in performing minimally invasive surgery, mostly on neonates, including thoracoscopic and laparoscopic procedures. He continues to refine and develop these delicate surgical techniques for the unique requirements of pediatric patients.

Dr. Flake also runs an active research laboratory, focused on fetal stem cell and gene therapy that could be used to treat genetic disorders like sickle cell disease before birth. His lab also developed an extra-uterine environment meant to support extremely preterm infants by encasing them in fluid and replicating the environment of the maternal womb.

“Dr. Flake is the perfect example of a physician-scientist. For decades, he has brought cutting-edge research and transformative surgical innovations from the bench to the bedside, treating babies with life-threatening fetal malformations and congenital diseases,” said Dr. Emre Seli, Chief Scientific Officer at March of Dimes. “Dr. Flake’s lifetime commitment to fetal surgery, considered experimental not long ago, is now the practice standard of care today, correcting devastating fetal conditions and giving babies a chance at healthy, functional lives. Taken with his stem cell research and his breakthrough work to mimic the womb to better sustain premature babies, Dr. Flake is a rare example of a basic scientist and a full-time surgeon who is literally re-writing the realm of possibility in fetal and neonatal therapies today.”

Before joining the Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP in 1996, Dr. Flake was Director of Fetal Surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. He earned his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and received postgraduate clinical and research training at the University of California, San Francisco, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Learn more this award in this March of Dimes press release and in these videos about Dr. Flake’s work.

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