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La Fondation Ipsen’s 6th Endocrine Communication and Regulation Prize is Awarded to William F. Crowley

October 20, 2008

The international jury brought together by La Fondation Ipsen on June 2, 2006 in Toronto (Canada), under the presidency of Professor Iain Robinson (National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK) awarded the 6th Endocrine Communication and Regulation Prize to William F. Crowley (Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA) for his pioneering research on GnRH, a peptide hormone secreted by the hypothalamus which plays a role in the sexual development of humans. He received his award of EUR 20,000 on 17 October 2008 after the opening ceremony of the Meeting of the European Neuroendocrine Association in Antalya (Turkey).

At a time when we are regularly hearing about translational medicine, which provides a link between basic research and clinical applications, Professor William F. Crowley stands out as a perfect example. A translational researcher par excellence, William F. Crowley helped define the physiology of GnRH in humans and develop its pulsatile administration to induce puberty and ovulation in GnRH deficient patients. He also defined the paradoxical ability of GnRH agonists to desensitize the GnRH receptor. He used this finding to pioneer the field of GnRH agonist therapy, which lead to the first human approval of GnRH for the treatment of children with precocious puberty and which remains the treatment for this condition to this day. Using genetic approaches, his group has identified several novel genes critical for the ontogeny of GnRH neurons and puberty. GPR54 and its ligand metastin, prokineticin 2 and its receptor, and the FGFR1 signaling pathway are all critical elements for GnRH neuron integrity in humans discovered using these approaches. Dr. Crowley is past President of the Endocrine Society, recipient of the NIH’s and the Endocrine Society’s Clinical Investigator Awards, and winner of the Endocrine Society’s highest scientific award, The Fred Conrad Koch Award.

Created in 2002, this Prize from La Fondation Ipsen has been awarded to the renowned specialists Wylie Vale (2002), Robert Lefkowitz (2003), Pierre Chambon (2004), Thomas Hokfelt (2005) and Roger Cone (2006). The members of the jury are: Iain Robinson (National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK), President, Xavier Bertagna (Hopital Cochin, Paris, France), Michael Conn (ORPRC, Beaverton, USA), Rolf Gaillard (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland), Ezio Ghigo (Ospedale Molinette, Turin, Italy), Florian Holsboer (Max-Planck-Institut fur Psychiatrie, Munich, Germany), Ilpo Huhtaniemi (Imperial College Faculty of Medicine, London, United Kingdom), Philippe Jaquet (Universite de la Mediterranee, Marseille, France), Paul Kelly (Faculte de Medecine Necker Enfants Malades, Paris, France), Steven Lamberts (Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Stafford Lightman (University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom), Robert Steiner (University of Washington, Seattle, USA) and Richard Weiner (University of California, San Francisco, USA).

La Fondation Ipsen

Established in 1983 under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the mission of La Fondation Ipsen is to contribute to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge. The long-standing action of La Fondation Ipsen is aimed at furthering the interaction between researchers and clinical practitioners, which is indispensable due to the extreme specialisation of these professions. The ambition of La Fondation Ipsen is not to offer definitive knowledge, but to initiate a reflection about the major scientific issues of the forthcoming years. It has developed an important international network of scientific experts who meet regularly at meetings known as Colloques Medecine et Recherche, dedicated to six main themes: Alzheimer’s disease, neurosciences, longevity, endocrinology, the vascular system and cancer science. In 2007, La Fondation Ipsen started three new series of meetings. The first is in partnership with the Salk Institute and Nature and is an annual meeting which focuses on aspects of Biological Complexity; the second is the “Emergence and Convergence” series with Nature, and the third is with Cell and the Massachusetts General Hospital entitled “Exciting Biologies”. Since its beginning, La Fondation Ipsen has organised more than 100 international conferences, published 67 volumes with renowned publishers and more than 200 issues of a widely distributed newsletter Alzheimer Actualites. It has also awarded more than 100 prizes and grants.