Stephen M. Prescott
1948 - 2021
Oklahoma City, OK—Stephen Prescott was born in Bryan, Texas to John M. and Kathryn K. Prescott on February 22, 1948 and died, following a four-year journey with cancer, in Oklahoma City on May 28, 2021. Steve grew up in College Station, Texas, where his parents inspired him to excel and supported him in every way, whether on the football field or in academic subjects. Steve graduated with high honors from Texas A&M University and received his medical degree with honors from the Baylor College of Medicine. He completed his training in internal medicine and cardiology at the University of Utah and then pursued advanced research training at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis). Subsequently, he joined the faculty of the University of Utah, where he became a professor of internal medicine and held the H.A. & Edna Benning Presidential Endowed Chair. He and his colleagues contributed to the detailed understanding of many human diseases and invented new approaches to diagnosis and treatment. At the University of Utah he also founded and directed a unique interdisciplinary research program in human genetics. The work in that program led to the founding of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, an NCI-designated cancer center, where he served initially as the Senior Director of Research and subsequently as Executive Director. Under his leadership the center expanded markedly: a cancer specialty hospital was added to the research and clinical facilities, and an outreach program to underserved communities was initiated. In 2019 he received the Leadership Award from the Institute.
Dr. Prescott served as a senior editor of both the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Journal of Clinical Investigation and on advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and multiple universities. He was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Physicians, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, and the Royal Academy of Medicine in Spain. He received numerous scientific awards, including the Governor's Medal for Science and Technology from the State of Utah, the Sol Sherry Prize from the American Heart Association, and the Houssay-Braun Medal from the Argentina Association for the Advancement of Science. He served on the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. He consulted for and served on the boards of numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the U.S. and abroad and was the founder of LineaGen, a biotechnology company that provides genetic testing to help physicians manage children with developmental delays and autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Prescott was also a dedicated teacher and mentor; more than 40 research students and postdoctoral fellows from the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America trained in his laboratory and have gone on to success around the world.
Dr. Prescott became an Oklahoman-by-choice when he joined the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in 2006, becoming OMRF's ninth president. At OMRF, Dr. Prescott raised $100 million to fund the largest campus expansion in the foundation's history, and orchestrated widespread recruitment efforts, bringing talented new scientists and physicians to OMRF to help in the fight against illnesses like heart disease, cancer, stroke, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Alzheimer's disease. Under his leadership, a remarkable trio of drugs born at OMRF have earned FDA approval and are now being used worldwide to treat patients. In Oklahoma, Dr. Prescott found a home that embraced him and offered myriad opportunities to be involved in the community, particularly with his passions for fostering high-tech companies and the arts; he served on the board of directors of numerous organizations and received a wide array of honors, culminating in his election to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2020.
Dr. Prescott is survived by his high-school sweetheart, best friend and wife of 52 years, Susan (Cartwright); brother Donald and sister-in-law Anne (College Station, Tex.); daughter Allison and son-in-law Jeremiah (New York City); son John and daughter-in-law Sheila (Austin, Tex.); and granddaughters Isabella, Lily and Ruby, at whose wedding to new grandson-in-law, Gabriel, he was proud to officiate.
Steve traveled the world, often in conjunction with his professional commitments, and particularly loved Italy, where he returned again and again. He was never without a book (or three) and a leather-bound journal which was travelogue, sketchbook, and dining memoir. He always came home, though, to his favorite place, the American West; he pursued his love of the outdoors through skiing, hiking, and camping with friends and family. And at the end of the day, Steve loved nothing more than sharing a table full of good food, good wine, and good stories. He will be missed beyond words.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
Published by The Salt Lake Tribune from Jun. 1 to Jun. 7, 2021.