Norman Barton, M.D., Ph.D., Receives Penn State Distinguished Alumni Award

Norman Barton, M.D., Ph.D., who was the recipient of the Penn State University Distinguished Alumni Award (the highest honor that the University bestows upon an outstanding alumna or alumnus) early in June at University Park, first became interested in metabolic disorders during college and was able to pursue this interest as a M.D. and Ph.D. student at Penn State Hershey. Several years later with colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Barton was able to deliver a breakthrough therapeutic innovation (enzyme replacement therapy) for Gaucher disease.

“This therapeutic approach has been life transformative for patients with Gaucher disease and also created a platform that has led to treatment for several other lysosomal storage disorders, including Fabry disease, Pompe disease, and Hunter, Hurler, and Maroteaux-Lamy Syndromes,” Dr. Barton said.

Dr. Barton is currently Head of Global Medical Affairs for Shire Human Genetic Therapies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also serves the group as senior fellow and disease expert.

He has thirty years of life sciences experience in academics and biotechnology with an emphasis on development, registration, and commercialization of orphan biopharmaceuticals designed to address unmet medical needs. In addition, he has held leadership positions with strategic, operational, and management responsibilities for many years. Successful registration programs include Ceredase®, the first enzyme replacement product for Gaucher disease, and Euflexxa®, a fermentation-derived viscoelastic for osteoarthritis. Formally trained in biological chemistry and internal medicine and certified in neurology, Dr. Barton’s career goals have held constant for many years: participate in building enterprise value and strive to increase the quality and quantity of life for patients with serious illnesses.

Prior to his work at Shire, he was chief executive officer of Sirogenesis, Inc. Dr. Barton served as executive vice president and chief medical officer at CepTor Corporation (2004-2006), Osiris Therapeutics (2002-2004), Biotechnology General Corp (1996-2002), and also served as a physician-scientist and Chief of the Clinical Investigations Section with the Neurological Institute at the National Institutes of Health (1985-1996).

Recognition for his contributions to the medical profession includes the Meritorious Service Medal from the Public Health Service, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Gaucher Foundation, and the Alumni Fellow Award from the Penn State Alumni Association.

Dr. Barton earned his M.D. (1976) and Ph.D. (1974) degrees at The Pennsylvania State University, and he completed his residency in internal medicine at Albany Medical College Hospital, and his residency in neurology at Cornell University New York Hospital.

Looking back, even though his interest in metabolic disorders came about during his undergraduate days, Dr. Barton gives credit to Penn State College of Medicine faculty for his chosen path.

“My thesis advisor, Abe Rosenberg, M.D., stimulated my interest in Gaucher disease and opened the door to a very satisfying career,” said Dr. Barton. And that career has had a tremendous impact on the world of medicine.

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