In Memoriam

In memoriam: Stephen Prescott

Jessica Desamero
Sept. 20, 2021

Stephen Michael Prescott, a former associate editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, died May 28 at age 73. He had cancer.

Stephen Prescott

Born February 22, 1948, in Bryan, Texas, Prescott earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in 1969 and a medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine in 1973. He completed his training in internal medicine and cardiology at the University of Utah and pursued advanced research training at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He later returned to the University of Utah as a professor of internal medicine, where he founded and directed a unique research program in human genetics.

For seven years, starting in 1999, Prescott served as executive director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He also served on boards of directors for several organizations, including the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and National Human Genome Research Institute. He founded LineaGen, a biotechnology company that provides accessible genetic testing for children with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delay.

Prescott served as president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation for 15 years, starting in 2006, and raised $100 million to fund the largest campus expansion in OMRF’s history. Under his leadership, the foundation discovered three drugs that are now used worldwide to treat sickle cell disease, certain rare blood disorders and protein C deficiency.

In his lab, Prescott studied diacylglycerol kinases, or DGKs, enzymes that phosphorylate diacylglycerol to form phosphatidic acid. His team discovered a mechanism by which the zeta isoform of DGK stimulates the activity of a phosphate kinase and ultimately helps regulate actin polymerization, which is important in cytoskeleton remodeling. He also helped invent a method of screening for agents that regulate the shedding of membrane-bound proteins by enhancing or inhibiting the activity of DGK-delta, as well as methods of regulating inflammation and cell growth and division by applying these agents, which can be useful for treating cancer.

A JBC associate editor from 1993 to 1998, Prescott also served on advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health and American Cancer Society. He received many scientific awards, including the Sol Sherry Prize from the American Heart Association.   

Diagnosed with cancer twice, Prescott published an article in a 2019 issue of OMRF’s Findings magazine documenting his diagnoses and treatments as well as his feelings about each part of his cancer journey.  “The cancer I’d developed was so rare that doctors couldn’t really compare my case to others,” he wrote. “Still, one thing was abundantly clear: My circumstances were dire. Despite what you may have seen on TV or the movies, doctors don’t tell patients that they have a certain amount of time left to live. But I, more than most, could read between the lines of what they were saying.”

Prescott is survived by his wife of 52 years, Susan; brother Donald and sister-in-law Anne, daughter Allison and son-in-law Jeremiah; son John and daughter-in-law Sheila; and three granddaughters.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Jessica Desamero

Jessica Desamero is a graduate student in the City University of New York’s biochemistry Ph.D. program and volunteers with two science outreach organizations, BioBus and World Science Festival.

Related articles

In memoriam: Tsuneo Omura
F. Peter Guengerich, Bettie Sue Masters & Ken-Ichirou Morohashi
In memoriam: Michael Waterman
F. Peter Guengerich
In memoriam: Teruko Tamura
ASBMB Today Staff
Remembering Suttie and Ponka
ASBMB Today Staff

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in People

People highlights or most popular articles

Science to the rescue

Science to the rescue

May 26, 2022

Chemistry professor teaches students to fact-check claims in their news feeds.

2022 voter guide
Member News

2022 voter guide

May 23, 2022

Learn about the positions and candidates running for ASBMB Council, secretary, Publications Committee and Nominating Committee.

‘We're all a bunch of weirdos doing our stuff’

‘We're all a bunch of weirdos doing our stuff’

May 20, 2022

An interview with Charles Sanders, a research associate at XBiotech.

Meet the 2022 ASBMB Advocacy Training Program delegates

Meet the 2022 ASBMB Advocacy Training Program delegates

May 19, 2022

The fourth cohort of the ASBMB ATP will learn how to advocate for science policy this summer.

Good fellows
Editor's Note

Good fellows

May 18, 2022

“To be a fellow, a member must be generous with time and talent — not just someone whose CV includes pages of individual BMB achievements.”

ASPET announces new leadership
Member News

ASPET announces new leadership

May 16, 2022

Bumpus, Ding, Boise and Linder to assume duties this summer.