Professor Frederick Samuel Kaplan

International Awards

Grand Hamdan International Award - Musculoskeletal Disorders


Professor Frederick S. Kaplan is the Isaac and Rose Nassau Professor of Orthopedic Molecular Medicine and Chief of the Division of Molecular Orthopedic Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine under University of Pennsylvania Health System. He is an alumnus of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1976 and the University of Pennsylvania Orthopedics Residency Program in 1981.

Academic background:

After completing his graduation and post-graduation in medicine, he started his career as a resident in 1976 in Orthopedic Surgery at the University Hospital and Children’s Hospital in Pennsylvania. In 1991 he obtained his Fellowship in Molecular Biology, and in 1997 he has become the Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Professor of Medicine and the Isaac & Rose Nassau Professor of Orthopaedic Molecular Medicine. In 1999 he has become the Director of the Center for Research on Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva and Related Disorders.

Research & Achievements:

Kaplan was a Hartford Foundation Research Fellow in human genetics and molecular biology from 1989 to 1991 in the laboratory of his mentor and friend Dr. Michael Zasloff.

The Experience led to his exploration of the mechanisms of heterotopic bone formation and skeletal metamorphosis in several disabling childhood diseases.

In 1989, Kaplan, an orthopaedic surgeon, met a child with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare and disabling disorder in which the body forms a second skeleton of heterotopic bone. Motivated to know and do more, Kaplan began a pioneering second career on the molecular genetics of heterotopic ossification, work that led to the discovery of the FOP gene, to the description of the molecular pathophysiology of skeletal metamorphosis in humans, to the discovery of progressive osseous heteroplasia (another disorder of heterotopic ossification) and its causative gene and pathophysiology. Along with his colleague Dr. Eileen Shore, Kaplan co-directs the only center in the world devoted entirely to this work and organized the medical and scientific communities of these two rare conditions worldwide. He is recognized as the world’s leading expert on genetic disorders of heterotopic ossification and skeletal metamorphosis. In 1997, Kaplan was awarded the first endowed chair in the nation for orthopaedic molecular medicine.

The late Victor McKusick, the father of clinical genetics, described Kaplan as “one of the really outstanding orthopaedic researchers of his generation. His work with FOP and POH has been extraordinary. The devotion of the families and the patients to him is testimony to the kind of human being he is.” Cited in 2006, as one of the15 people who make America great, Newsweek noted “the disease was so rare, nobody wanted to deal with it until he came along.”

More than any other individual, it was Kaplan’s work that provided the direct connection between the BMPs and ectopic skeletogenesis that was heralded by the earlier discoveries of Crumberbach and Urist — and lauded in Science. Furthermore, a major outcome of the lines of investigation opened up by the work of Kaplan and colleagues has been the recent institution of clinical trials based on the numerous pathophysiologic targets. While the importance of Dr. Kaplan’s discovery of ACVR1 and GNAS as major human metamorphogenes cannot be overstated, his career-spanning focus on the molecular pathogenesis of HO has resulted in seminal discoveries reaching far beyond his studies of FOP and POH.

Kaplan and colleagues’ investigations of the rare diseases FOP and POH have uncovered mechanisms so pathogenetically fundamental to tissue metamorphosis that they have challenged existing dogma far outside the usual realm of musculoskeletal medicine. For example, Kaplan and colleagues challenged the existing dogma that calcific aortic stenosis was caused by a “senile degenerative” process and discovered that aortic stenosis is caused by an inflammatory process that triggers re-activation of the developmental process of skeletal formation.

This work has led to the discovery of heterotopic ossification in atherosclerosis with therapeutic implications for millions.

Awards & Recognition:

In Teaching:

  • The Leonard Berwick Memorial Award For Distinguished Teaching Which Effectively Fuses Basic Science and Clinical Medicine. Penn (1986; 1994)
  • The Medical Student Government Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Clinical Sciences. Penn (1986; 1992; 1995)
  • The Louis R. Dinon Award For Excellence in Clinical Teaching. Penn (1987)
  • The Christian R. & Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching (1988)
  • The Pearl Teaching Award for Outstanding Teaching in Clinical Medicine. Penn (1991; 1996; 1998)
  • The Medical Student Government Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Basic Sciences. Penn (1993)
  • The Curriculum-2000 Outstanding Teacher Award (1998) from the Class of 2001
  • The Outstanding Lecturer Award. The School of Medicine; Classes of 2002; 2003

In Research:

  • The Edgar L. Ralston Award; For Excellence in Research. Penn (1981)
  • The National Research Service Award of the NIH (1981)
  • The Thomas B. McCabe Foundation Award for Research in Metabolic Bone Disease (1986)
  • The Boy Frame Memorial Research Award of The American Society For Bone and Mineral Research, for Excellence in Metabolic Bone Disease Research (1988)
  • The John A. Hartford Foundation Research Fellowship Award (1989)The Johnson & Johnson Research Award for Excellence in Orthopaedic Research. The Orthopaedic Research & Education Foundation (1994)
  • The International Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Association Distinguished Achievement Award (1996)
  • The Marshall R. Urist Award For Distinguished Clinical and Basic Research; Portland Bone Symposium - Oregon Health Sciences University (1999)
  • The Sir John Charnley Award. The Arthritis Foundation (1999)
  • The Distinguished Visiting Scientist Award The Czech Society of Rheumatolog y. Prague, Czech Republic (1999).

In Service:

  • The DeForest Willard Award; Orthopaedic Surgery. Penn (1981)
  • The Alumnus of The Year Award; Board of Education, Highland Park Public Schools, High land Park, New Jersey, in Recognition of Outstanding Contributions to Society (1989)
  • Top Doctors in Philadelphia; Philadelphia Magazine (1991, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2012)
  • The International Fibrody splasia Ossificans Progressiva Association Award for Outstanding and Exemplary Service to the FOP Community and for Supreme Dedication to FOP Research (1995) The Best Doctors in America; US News & World Report (1996, 2002, 2007, 2012)
  • The Morris J. & Betty Kaplun Award. The Alliance of Genetic Support Groups (1996)
  • The International Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Association and Progressive Osseous Heteroplasia Association Nassau Professorship Award for “Bound less Loyalty, Dedication and Commitment to the FOP & POH Community” (1997)
  • The Presidential Award of The American Society For Bone and Mineral Research for Excellent Planning & Organization of the Scientific Program For the Second Joint Meeting of the ASBMR and the International Bone and Mineral Society (1998)
  • The Quality of Life Advocacy Award. The Arthritis Foundation (1999)
  • The Presidential Award of The American Society For Bone and Mineral Research For Excellent Planning & Organization of the Scientific Program For the ASBMR 21st Annual Meeting (1999)
  • Department of Veteran Affairs Distinguished Service Award (2002)
  • The President’s Award of The American Society for Bone & Mineral Research, “In appreciation & gratitude for extraordinary devotion and service to the ASBIVIR as associate editor of The Primer on the Metabolic Diseases and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism (edition Ill throug h VI), and in recognition of dedication to sustaining the highest standards of educational excellence.“ American Society for Bone & Mineral Research (2006)
  • The Glass Globe Award — FOP World for Dedication to the FOP Community - FOP Midwest (2006)
  • Distinguished Service Award of the Association of Bone Joint Surgeons for Service to Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research (2011)
  • United States Army XVIII Airborne Corps Medal for Excellence - presented by the Commanding General of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg (2012)
  • RARE Champion of Hope Award Nomination (Global Genes/ RARE Project). Tribute to Champions of Hope Award. Newport Beach, California (2013) The International Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Association Presidential Achievement Award (2000)
  • The Progressive Osseous Heteroplasia Association Distinguished Achievement Award For Work On The Discovery of the GNAS-1 Gene Responsible for Progressive Osseous Heteroplasia (2000)
  • Association Pierre-Yves Award for Distinguished FOP Research; French FOP Association (2005)
  • The President & Founders Award of the International FOP Association for the Discovery of the FOP gene. “For leadership, dedication, and monumental contribution in discovering the skeleton key.” (2006)
  • Citation of Honor For Discovery of the FOP Gene. From the Ministry of Science, Education & Sports - The Republic Croatia (2006)
  • Eastern Orthopaedic Association - Presidential Award (2007)
  • “We’ve Reached the Summit.” Award for the Discovery of the FOP Gene. Board of Directors International FOP Association (2007)
  • Swedish FOP Association Award for Excellence in FOP Research (2008)
  • Commendation by The United States Congress House of Representative for ongoing research in the field of genetic disorders (2012)
  • Progressive Osseous Heteroplasia Association Citation for Excellence in POH Research (2016)

In Journalism:

  • The Medical Book Award of the Association of Medical Illustrators (1988)
  • The Wellcome Trust Award for Biology & Medicine (2000)
  • The  Royal  Television  Society  Educational  Television  & Media Award for Best Scientific Documentary; The British Science Writers Award for Best Scientific Documentary; The International Image & Science Festival Grand Prize Awarded to Skeleton Key on Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva FOP (UK)
  • The MORE (Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence) Award of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (2007)
  • Presentation of the Twelfth Annual Michael E. DeBakey Award in Biomedical Research Journalism (2013)

Other Awards:

  • Hero of the Year Award; The Elementary School. Victor, Iowa (2002)
  • Merit of Honor - FOP Brazil. Brazilian FOP Association (2005)
  • Newsweek Magazine: The Giving Back Award — 15 People Who Make America Great: “THE GENIUS.”
  • “For imaginative approaches to difficult problems: (2006)”
  • The Distinguished Graduate Award of the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania — “In recognition of his exceptional work in orthopaedics and his many contributions to medicine.” (2017)
  • The Rare Impact Award of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (2017)

Above all he is a member of several medical societies and medical associations, and is an invited lecturer around the world in his field of medicine. Other than that he is a member of Editorial Board of several leading Medical Journals. He has more than 50 medical research grants in his credit, and he is the Principal Investigator in that grants since 1992. His Research Endowments include the following: in 1995, the Ian L. Cali Fund For FOP Research ($10,000,000); in 1997, the Isaac & Rose Nassau Professorship Endowment Fund for Research on Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressia and Progressive Osseous Heteroplasia ($2,300,000); the Whitney Weldon FOP Research Fund ($3,000,000); the McGuire FOP Research Fund ($200,000), and the Ashley Martucci FOP Research Fund ($300,000).

Fred Kaplan is a consummate physician-scientist whose contributions are of a magnitude reached by few in the field of musculoskeletal medicine worthy of the Grand Hamdan International Award for the term 2017-2018.

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