November 3, 2017
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Berlin – The Robert Koch Foundation today jointly awarded the 2017 Robert Koch Award, with prize money of 120,000 euros, to Professors >>Rafi Ahmed, Emory University and Emory Vaccine Center, Atlanta, USA, und >>Antonio Lanzavecchia, Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Università della Svizzera italiana, Bellinzona, and ETH Zürich, Switzerland. >>Christopher T. Walsh, emeritus Professor at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, was awarded the Robert Koch Gold Medal for his life’s work.
The awards were presented by Lutz Stroppe, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
The award recognizes the two immunologists’ pioneering research on regulation of immune system and their ground-breaking contributions on the development of new vaccines and immunotherapies. In his speech, State Secretary Lutz Stroppe highlighted the work of the award winners: “Professor Rafi Ahmed and Professor Antonio Lanzavecchia have revolutionized our understanding of the body’s immune defenses. The foundation was laid to enable targeted treatments for chronic infections and cancers. Their valuable insights contribute to quality and progress in health care. They want their scientific results to be put into practice quickly, for the benefit of the people. “
Walsh received the Robert Koch Gold Medal for his life’s work as a pioneer in chemical biology and catalyst in the search for pharmacologically active substances, especially for new antibiotics. State Secretary Stroppe remarked: “With his work on im-munomodulators and antibiotics, Professor Christopher T. Walsh has made an ex-ceptional contribution to the development of new substances in the field of ‘chemical biology’.”
Also presented at the ceremony were the Robert Koch Foundation Postdoctoral Awards for outstanding work by young scientists, which come with prize money of 5,000 euros each. The three candidates were nominated by the German Societies for Hygiene and Microbiology, Immunology and Virology.
The post-doctoral award for virology went to Dr. >>Gisa Gerold, Institute for Experimental Virology at TWINCORE in Hanover, for her studies on the biology of Hepatitis C-Virus-Infections. Dr. >>Médéric Diard, ETH Zürich, received the microbiology award in recognition of his work on the pathogenesis and ecology of enterobacteria. Dr. >>Ahmed Hegazy, Deutsches Rheuma-Forschungszentrum Berlin, received the immunology award in recognition of his studies on the pathogenesis of chronic diseases.