Drs. Mark Denison, Carl June and Michael Welsh are the finalists for the $1 million Lorraine Cross Award. The winner will be announced April 13, 2021.

Meet Lorraine Cross Award finalists and donors

November 17, 2020

For the safety of everyone involved, the second biennial Sanford Lorraine Cross Award celebration, originally planned for Dec. 8, has been postponed until April 13, 2021.

This means we’ll have to wait to learn the winner of the $1 million prize for medical innovation. But in the meantime, we have the chance to better get to know the three incredible finalists, and the growing circle of donors who give through the Foundation to make the award possible.


Each of the Lorraine Cross Award finalists is recognized for breakthroughs in medical science in their fields, which include cystic fibrosis, CAR T-cell therapy and infectious disease. Click on each innovator’s name below to explore his interactive story.

Mark Denison, MD

Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Principal Investigator of the Denison Lab and Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology at Vanderbilt University

Dr. Denison is recognized for his decades-long work studying coronaviruses, which led to his eventual discovery of remdesivir as a therapeutic solution for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carl June, MD

Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Dr. June is recognized for his discovery of CAR T-cell therapies to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His therapy is now named KYMRIAH by Novartis and is FDA-approved.

Michael Welsh, MD

Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Director of Pappajohn Biomedical Institute and Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine

Dr. Welsh is recognized for his work creating a unifying understanding of cystic fibrosis to guide the creation of later treatments for nearly 90 percent of cystic fibrosis patients.


The $1 million Lorraine Cross Award is supported in perpetuity through an endowment established through the Sanford Health Foundation. Donors who invest $1 million or more are honored as members of the Founders Circle and celebrated for their visionary generosity. Meet the members and learn what inspired their investment below.

Founders Circle:

  • Miles and Lisa Beacom Family
    “Above all, we’re incredibly hopeful that the prize will give patients and families struggling with disease or debilitating health conditions a reason to keep dreaming of a better future.” Read more.
  • Tom and Barb Everist Family
  • Tom and Melissa Howes Family
  • Dan and Arlene Kirby Family
    “We believe in giving that lasts forever.” Read more.
  • Kelby and Heidi Krabbenhoft Family
    “For us, it’s personal.” Read more
  • Bill and Jan Marlette
  • Debby Vander Woude Family, given with love to honor the life and enduring legacy of Dr. John C. Vander Woude
    “To hope for lifesaving treatments and cures is not enough.” Read more.

To learn more about the Founders Circle, please contact Kelsey Sweeney by email or call (605) 312-6700.