2018 LOUIS JEANTET PRIZE FOR MEDICINE
The 2018 Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine is awarded to CHRISTER BETSHOLTZ, Director of the Integrated Cardio Metabolic Centre based at Karolinska Institute, and Professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, and to the immunologist ANTONIO LANZAVECCHIA, Director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine and Professor at the Università della Svizzera italiana in Switzerland.
The LOUIS JEANTET FOUNDATION grants the sum of CHF 700,000 for each of the two prizes, of which CHF 625,000 is for the continuation of the prize-winner's research and CHF 75,000 for their personal use. The prize-winners are conducting fundament al biological research that is expected to be of considerable significance for medicine.
CHRISTER BETSHOLTZ, of Swedish nationality, is awarded the 2018 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for his seminal discoveries in vascular biology, in particular the characterisation of specialised cells – pericytes – and their role in vascular development and permeability.
Christer Betsholtz studies angiogenesis: the mechanism whereby new blood vessels form from existing ones. In particular, his laboratory has made seminal discoveries regarding the vascularisation of the blood brain barrier, the layer that protects the brain from potentially neurotoxic substances present in the blood, while allowing the passage of nutrients and other substances essential for the correct functioning of the brain. His research has important implications for the development and treatment of diseases in the brain.
Christer Betsholtz will use the prize money to continue to study blood vessels in the central nervous system and their role in physiological and disease processes.
ANTONIO LANZAVECCHIA, of Italian nationality, is awarded the 2018 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for his contributions to our understanding of the human immune response to infection and its application to vaccinology.
Antibodies provide a highly specific and powerful mechanism of protection against invading pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.). Antonio Lanzavecchia’s laboratory developed methods to isolate potent and broadly neutralizing antibodies from the human immune response, which can be used against a variety of common and emerging pathogens that are responsible for life -threatening diseases such as influenza, Ebola or Zika. This approach also led to the surprising discovery of a new type of antibodies specific to malaria parasites, revealing a new mechanism of antibody diversification with important implications for understanding host -pathogen interaction and for the development of new vaccines and antibody-based therapies.
Antonio Lanzavecchia will use the prize money to continue to characterise this new mechanism of antibody diversification.