Paris, France – November 13, 2014 – Sanofi and the Institut Pasteur awarded the Sanofi – Institut Pasteur awards for the third consecutive year. Four internationally renowned researchers were honored today for their work carried out in two major fields concerning world health: neglected tropical diseases and immunology.
Created in 2012, these awards encourage innovation and scientific excellence in the service of health. In 2014, the program set aside a total of 300.000 euros to reward and encourage research. In this third edition, four researchers and their projects were selected from among approximately 80 scientists from around the world:
Doctor Priscille Brodin, Research Director at Inserm within the Center of Infection and Immunology of Lille – CIIL (joint structure of the CNRS, the Inserm, the Institut Pasteur in Lille and the University of Lille) for her research on tuberculosis and Buruli ulcer.
Doctor Nadine Laguette, researcher at the CNRS, for her research on the role of the SAMHD1 protein in infections caused by the HIV.
Professor Jean-Laurent Casanova, Professor at the Rockefeller University and Associate Professor at the Necker Hospital for Sick Children, for his research on genetics and infectious diseases, particularly in children.
Professor Etienne Pays, a researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, for his research on trypanosomal diseases, notably human African trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness.
The awardees received the awards during a ceremony held today at Sanofi’s headquarters, in the company of Serge Weinberg, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Sanofi, and Professor Christian Bréchot, President of the Institut Pasteur.
“For this third edition, the Institut Pasteur is once again proud to join forces with Sanofi, its long-standing and privileged partner, in order to reward four top-level researchers “, stated Prof. Christian Bréchot, President of the Institut Pasteur. “This year, we chose to encourage scientists whose careers fall within all three categories, from Junior to Senior. Supporting experienced researchers is as much about recognizing their major contributions to world health as it is in honoring eminent professionals, their vision and contributions within the scientific community. Rewarding the youngest researchers, however, is to believe in the future, which must also be a top priority.”
Elias Zerhouni, President, Global Research & Development of Sanofi said “These Awards are the natural continuation of the historic collaboration we have developed with the Institut Pasteur and we are proud to pursue our innovation-based alliance with its researchers. Public health requirements are constantly changing, it is therefore essential that we never stop encouraging innovation. Through these Awards, we are showing our commitment and our support for research and discoveries which will one day be able to prevent diseases or provide better treatments against diseases for those who need them.”
The Jury presiding over these four Awards was composed of eleven prestigious members:
– President of the Jury: Professor Peter C. Agre, University Professor and Director of the Malaria Research Institute, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
– Vice-President of the Jury: Professor Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, USA. 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
– Professor Pascale Cossart, member of the French Academy of Sciences, Head of the Bacteria-Cell Interactions Research Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.
– Professor Alain Fischer, Director of the Pediatric Immunology Unit, Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital (INSERM), Professor at the Paris Descartes University, Paris, France. Winner of the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award in 2013.
– Professor Peter Gruss, Honorary President of the Max Planck Society, Munich, Germany, Honorary Professor at the University of Göttingen, Member of the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Germany.
– Professor Jörg H. Hacker, President of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Halle, Germany.
– Professor Jules A. Hoffmann, Emeritus Research Director at CNRS. 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
– Doctor Gary J. Nabel, Chief Scientific Officer, Global R&D, Sanofi, and Chairman of the Strategic Development and Scientific Advisory Council, Sanofi.
– Professor Staffan Normark, Professor of Medical Microbiology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
– Professor Jeffrey V. Ravetch, Professor and Head of the Leonard Wagner Laboratory of Molecular Genetics and Immunology at the Rockefeller University, New York, USA. Winner of the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award in 2012.
– Professor Philippe Sansonetti, member of the French Academy of Sciences, Professor at the Collège de France, Head of the Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.
Profiles of the four awardees of the 2014 Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Awards
Doctor Priscille Brodin
Recognized in the “Junior” category for her work in the field of “Tropical and neglected diseases”, Priscille Brodin, receives the Award for her important contributions to the study of two mycobacterial diseases, tuberculosis and Buruli ulcer.
Priscille Brodin is a French cellular microbiologist. She is the Research Director at the Center of Infection and Immunology of Lille (CIIL), a joint structure of the Institut Pasteur in Lille, the CNRS, the Inserm and the University of Lille.
Doctor Brodin and her team discovered new genes involved in the parasitism of cells by the tubercle bacillus Mycobacterium. This ground-breaking discovery may allow unprecedented therapeutic therapies to be offered in the future and lead to new candidate vaccines against tuberculosis, the second deadliest infectious disease after AIDS. In 2013, 9 million people were affected by tuberculosis worldwide, causing 1.5 million deaths.
Doctor Nadine Laguette
Recognized in the “Junior” category for her work in the field of “immunology”, Nadine Laguette receives the Award for her work in the fundamental findings of the role of the SAMHD1 cellular protein in viral infections of the HIV virus.
A Mauritian of French origin, Nadine Laguette obtained her Bachelor of Science (BSc) at Royal Holloway College at the University of London. After receiving her Master’s Degree at the Université de Paris-Sud (Orsay), the young scientist obtained her Ph.D. at Paris Descartes University.
Doctor Laguette’s work has shown that the SAMHD1 protein (cellular protein) can be used to block HIV infection, allowing for major advances in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The AIDS virus remains the deadliest infectious disease in the world: since 1981, more than 36 million deaths have been caused by the virus. In 2012, an estimated 2.3 million people were infected by HIV.
Professor Jean-Laurent Casanova
In the “Mid-career” category, Jean-Laurent Casanova is awarded the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur prize for findings on the genetic variations subjecting children to greater risk for infectious diseases.
Jean-Laurent Casanova is a French pediatrician and immunologist. In 2001 he, along with Laurent Abel, founded the Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases at Necker Medical School and was also its Co-Director. He is currently a Professor at Rockefeller University in New York and Associate Professor at Necker Hospital.
Professor Casanova has dedicated himself to the genetic study of infectious diseases in children. He has shown that certain fatal infections in children were due to congenital mutations in a single gene that cause immune deficiencies. This ground-breaking advance in pediatrics and infectious diseases has led to the implementation of innovative pediatric treatments. In France, approximately 200 children are born each year with a primary immune deficiency.
Professor Etienne Pays
Senior awardee Professor Etienne Pays receives the Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Award for his numerous findings in trypanosoma diseases.
Professor Etienne Pays is a Belgian biologist, he is Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. His research is focused on human African trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness. Transmitted via a bite from the tsetse fly, the disease, caused by the trypanosome parasite, currently affects 20,000 people and threatens 70 million people across 36 African countries.
Professor Pays discovered that men have a unique system of defense against trypanosome based on a protein called APOL1. He showed that the two trypanosomes responsible for sleeping sickness come to infect humans because they have developed different mechanisms of resistance against APOL1. His team then discovered that mutations of APOL1 in Africa allowed many individuals to take a natural resistance against one of the trypanosomes causing sleeping sickness. However, the price to being resistant is the development of kidney failure increasing with age. This major breakthrough helped his team to understand how to work around the trypanosoma’s defense system and to envisage therapeutic options for the treatment of sleeping sickness. It has also provided hope by offering concrete medical perspectives for kidney diseases.
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About the Institut Pasteur
An internationally renowned center of biomedical research, the Institut Pasteur, created in 1887 by Louis Pasteur, is a recognized private non-profit foundation. Its mission is to contribute to preventing and fighting disease in France and around the world, through scientific and medical research, education, and public health activities. About 2600 individuals work on its campus in Paris. In addition to research in the field of life sciences, a significant part of its work is dedicated to the study of infectious, genetic and neuro-degenerative diseases as well as certain cancers. The Institut Pasteur is at the heart of an international network comprising 32 institutes on 5 continents. Since its creation, 10 researchers have received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. www.pasteur.fr
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