Johnson & Johnson Honors 2008 Recipients of The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
BEERSE, Belgium, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ — The 2008 recipients of The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, Professor Marc Feldmann, FMedSci, FAA, FRS and Emeritus Professor Sir Ravinder Maini, FRCP, FMedSci, FRS of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College London, are being honored during a scientific symposium today and at a formal award ceremony at the Dr. Paul Janssen Research Center in Beerse, Belgium tomorrow. Feldmann and Maini received the $100,000 prize for their role in the discovery of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) as an effective therapeutic target for rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions.
“Thanks to their pioneering biomedical research, Feldmann and Maini have significantly improved the lives of millions of patients with chronic inflammatory conditions,” said Paul Stoffels, company group chairman, Global Research and Development, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson. “We are delighted that the 2008 Dr. Paul Janssen Award is going to two researchers with a lifelong commitment to translational research. Their achievements would have been greatly appreciated by Dr. Paul Janssen, who himself was instrumental in the development of many important medicines.”
For more than 20 years, Feldmann and Maini have collaborated on basic research and clinical trials that have transformed the treatment of people diagnosed with chronic inflammatory conditions. Feldmann and Maini investigated the role of cytokines, protein messenger molecules that drive inflammation, and found that a single cytokine, TNF-alpha, was responsible for the debilitating symptoms of inflammatory disease. In seeking ways to block TNF-alpha, they studied a monoclonal antibody previously developed for an unrelated condition. Clinical trials revealed rapid and dramatic improvement of rheumatoid disease activity with anti-TNF therapy, ultimately influencing the development of several anti-TNF drugs that are used routinely to treat prevalent and debilitating conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
“Advances in molecular medicine, biotechnology and contributions from many colleagues enabled our discovery to be made,” said Maini. “It is a joy to see how the lives of patients have been changed by this treatment.”
There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis. The safety and efficacy of anti-TNF therapies has been well established in clinical trials and through experience with more than one million patients treated globally.
“It is very pleasing that our research defining TNF as a good therapeutic target for rheumatoid arthritis has subsequently led to TNF blockade in Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis,” said Feldmann. “Blocking other cytokines such as IL-6 has been successful, too. This has led to a newly emerging branch of medicine, anti-cytokine therapy. We are very excited that we now have the potential to treat even more diseases and help more patients.”
Feldmann and Maini received additional recognition during two related events in New York City: an invitation-only gala reception on September 9 and a scientific symposium at the New York Academy of Sciences today. Nobel Laureate and 2006 winner of The Dr. Paul Janssen Award, Craig Mello, Ph.D., chaired the scientific symposium, “From Bench to Bedside: Novel Anti-Cytokine Therapies.” The symposium featured presentations on scientific advances since the initial discovery of anti-TNF therapy, including advances in the basic understanding of disease mechanisms and development of new anti-cytokine therapies.
Feldmann and Maini previously received the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award in 2003 and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy in 2000, among others, for their work on TNF-alpha.
About The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
Established by Johnson & Johnson, The Dr. Paul Janssen Award salutes the most passionate and creative scientists in basic or clinical research whose scientific achievements have made, or have strong potential to make, a measurable impact on human health. The Dr. Paul Janssen Award is named for Dr. Paul Janssen, who founded Janssen Pharmaceutica, N.V. in 1953. Known to his colleagues as “Dr. Paul,” Janssen was one of the 20th century’s most gifted and passionate researchers, a physician-scientist who helped save millions of lives through his contribution to the discovery and development of more than 80 medicines, of which five are on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. In 1961, Janssen Pharmaceutica, N.V. joined the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. For more information about the award, visit http://www.pauljanssenaward.com/.
About the Selection Committee
The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research independent Selection Committee is composed of some of the world’s leading scientists, including National Medal of Science winners, Nobel Laureates, members of the National Academy of Sciences and a past winner of The Dr. Paul Janssen Award. The 2008 Selection Committee includes:
— Solomon Snyder, M.D., (chairman) distinguished service professor of neuroscience, pharmacology and psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; co-winner, 1978 Albert Lasker Award; winner, 2003 National Medal of Science (United States)
— Jean Marie Lehn, Ph.D., professor, College de France; winner, 1987 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (France)
— Craig Mello, Ph.D., investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor, Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School; winner, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine; winner, 2006 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research (United States)
— Hartmut Michel, Ph.D., director, Department of Molecular Membrane Biology, University of Frankfurt; winner, 1988 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (Germany)
— Edward Scolnick, M.D., director, Psychiatry Initiative at the Broad Institute; former president, Merck Research Laboratories; member, National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine (United States)
— Sir Richard Sykes, Ph.D., FMedSci, FRS, FRSC, former chief executive officer, GlaxoWellcome; rector, Imperial College London
About Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Services, L.L.C.
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Web site: http://www.pauljanssenaward.com/