French Anderson was born in Oklahoma, U.S.A. in 1936. He obtained a B.A. from Harvard University in 1958, an M.A. from Cambridge University in 1960 and an M.D. from Harvard University Medical School in 1963. His academic and research career extended for more than 40 years during which he took several senior positions. He was a professor of biochemistry, consultant in research and Adjunct Professor in the Genetics Program at George Washington University (GWU). He was also Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Physiology at NIH laboratories in Bethesda, MD and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Human Gene Therapy and member of the editorial boards of several medical and scientific journals. The last position he held was Professor of Biochemistry and Pediatrics at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine and Director of the Gene Therapy Laboratories at USC, Los Angeles.
Anderson was a pioneer of gene therapy. He was the first to use this innovative method in an attempt to correct a human genetic disorder. In September 1990, he infused gene-corrected T-lymphocytes into a child with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a rare genetic disorder caused by an adenosine deaminase-defective gene. That courageous step opened the door for numerous trials of gene therapy for different conditions, particularly cancer.
Dr. Anderson was a copious author and recipient of many awards for contributions in the field of medical genetics. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Fellowship of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among the Prizes he received was the Mary Ann Liebert Biotherapeutics Prize, the Ralph R. Braund Prize in Research from the University of Tennessee, the Rank Prize, the Charles Shepard science Prize, the Murray Thein Prize and the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine.
In 2006, Anderson was convicted of abusing a minor, imprisoned and dismissed from his job.
Professor W. French Anderson, has been awarded the prize, in recognition of his brilliant career as a medical scientist of outstanding academic excellence. He is the acknowledged father of gene therapy and an “individual of great sense to the human condition”.