The Louis-Jeantet Prize conferred to Prof. Antonio Lanzavecchia

Photo les Studios Casagrande
Photo les Studios Casagrande

Institutional Communication Service

27 April 2018

The Louis-Jeantet Foundation, during a ceremony held on Wednesday, April 25th, at the Centre Médical Universitaire (CMU) in Geneva, conferred the 2018 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine to Antonio Lanzavecchia, Director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona and Professor of the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, and to Christer Betsholtz, Director of the Cardio-Metabolic Center integrated at the Karolinska Institutet and Professor at the Uppsala University.

Every year, the Louis-Jeantet Foundation awards cutting-edge researchers working in countries that are members of the European Council. Recognized as one of the most prestigious of the Old Continent, the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine - worth 700 hundred thousand francs - promotes scientific excellence applied to innovative research projects with high added value.

Prof. Lanzavecchia has been awarded for his findings on the human immune response and their possible applications in the development of new vaccines and antibody-based therapies. 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.

The prize amount - 700'000 CHF - will be allocated to continue his research on the new antibody diversification mechanism.

Founded in 1986, the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine has, so far, been awarded to 88 researchers: 27 in the United Kingdom, 16 in Switzerland, 15 in Germany, 14 in France, 4 in Sweden, 3 in the Netherlands, 2 in Austria, 2 in Belgium, 2 in Finland, 2 in Norway and 1 in Italy. Among the award-winners, 10 were subsequently distinguished by the Nobel Prizes in Physiology, Medicine or Chemistry. Since 1986, the Foundation has allocated a total sum of over 60 million francs.