Media Contacts

Julie Kiefer

Associate Director, Science Communications, University of Utah Health
Phone: 801-587-1293

Jul 13, 2020 10:00 AM

Michael Deininger, MD, PhD, Hilary Coon, PhD

University of Utah Health has named Michael Deininger, MD, PhD, and Hilary Coon, PhD, as the H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Endowed Chairs.

Coon is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at U of U Health and focuses primarily in the genetics of autism and of suicide. Her interest in this research has culminated in a series of National Institutes of Health-funded grants.

She is internationally renowned as a top psychiatric genetics researcher, a reputation that has been established through several large-scale collaborations with national and international genetics consortia, as well as locally through analysis of extended pedigrees represented in the Utah Population Database.

In addition, Coon has secured funding from multiple foundations over her career including the prestigious Simons Foundation, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

Coon’s early gene findings have led to a better understanding of underlying mechanismsof psychiatric risk, intermediate traits, and comorbid conditions associated with mental illness. Her seminal work in gene-finding for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism with the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium has also fundamentally changed our understanding of the biological mechanisms of these disorders.

Deininger is chief of the Division of Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies in the Department of Internal Medicine and senior director of transdisciplinary research at Huntsman Cancer Institute. He was recently appointed the inaugural director of Huntsman Center for Excellence in Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies. He specializes in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and myeloproliferative neoplasms, a group of blood cancers related to leukemia.

Under his guidance, the blood and marrow transplant program has grown considerably in size and reputation and now includes complex transplants such as haploidentical transplants. The division also established the first CAR T cell program in the Mountain West and the first adult hemophilia program in the region.

In addition to his clinical acumen and leadership, Deininger is internationally known for his research accomplishments. Since arriving in Utah in 2010, he has received $11 million in extramural funding. These grants focus on malignant hematology and enabled over 275 peer-reviewed publications, to which he has contributed in a significant way.

In recognition of his lifetime contributions to the field of CML, he was awarded the 2019 International CML Foundation Rowley Prize. He also received the Alexandra J. Kefalides Prize for Leukemia Research in 2008.

The Benning Chairs were established in August 2005 with a $22.5 million bequest from the late Arthur E. Benning, former president and chairman of the board of Amalgamated Sugar. The chairs are named in memory of Benning’s parents and support the University of Utah in continuing its proud tradition of medical research. Coon and Deininger, along with the other Benning Chairs, are furthering medical knowledge to help people worldwide.


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