2019 LOUIS JEANTET PRIZE FOR MEDICINE
The 2019 Louis-Jeantet Prizes are awarded to LUIGI NALDINI, Director of the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy and Professor at the San Raffaele University in Milan, Italy and to BOTOND ROSKA, a founding director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB) in Switzerland.
The LOUIS-JEANTET FOUNDATION grants the sum of CHF 500,000 for each prize, of which CHF 450,000 is for the continuation of the prize-winner's research and CHF 50,000 is for their personal use.
The prize-winners are conducting fundamental and translational research that is of considerable significance for medicine.
LUIGI NALDINI, of Italian nationality, is awarded the 2019 Jeantet-Collen Prize for Translational Medicine for his pioneering work taking gene therapy from the bench to the bedside, allowing to treat several genetic diseases.
Gene therapy can treat inherited diseases by replacing a malfunctioning gene with a functional copy of it in the affected cells, or by editing the mutant genomic sequence to the common version. Luigi Naldini has been a pioneer in the development of safe lentiviral vectors for gene therapy, having achieved success in the treatment of patients suffering from several rare fatal disorders.
Luigi Naldini will use the prize money to pave the way to the next generation of safer and more effective hematopoietic stem cell therapies based on precision genetic engineering by targeted gene editing.
BOTOND ROSKA, of Hungarian nationality, is awarded the 2019 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for the discovery of basic principles of visual information processing and the development of therapeutic strategies, such as gene therapy, to restore vision in retinal disorders.
Vision is a key sense for humans and dysfunction of the visual system can lead to blindness. Botond Roska and his team aim to find ways to repair visual dysfunction by investigating how the retina, thalamus, and cortex function at the level of cell types and circuits. They then use the acquired knowledge to understand disease mechanisms and to develop treatments.
Botond Roska will use the prize money to develop methods to further understand the functional architecture of the human retina in both normal and disease states.