AsianScientist (Sep. 22, 2014) – Professors Tasuku Honjo and James P. Allison, from Kyoto University and the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center respectively, were awarded the inaugural Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Sciences at a ceremony held at the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei on September 18, 2014.
The two immunologists were chosen by a panel of scientists at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica for their discovery of CTLA-4 and PD-1 as immune inhibitory molecules. Antibodies against both molecules have been developed and are undergoing clinical trials in melanoma and lung cancer patients. In particular, combination therapy, where antibodies against both CTLA-4 and PD-1 are simultaneously used, has been shown to dramatically improve the long-term survival rates in cancer patients.
In addition to the Biopharmaceutical Sciences award, three other prizes were given out in the categories of sustainable development, Sinology and rule of law to Dr. Gro Harlem Burndtland, Professor Yu Ying-Shih and former Justice Albie Sachs respectively. The winner of each category will receive a cash prize of NT$40 million (~US$1.32 million), as well as an additional research grant of NT$10 million (US$0.33 million).
Named after the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the Tang Prize was first announced in 2012. It was established by the founder Dr. Samuel Yin Yen-Liang, chairman of the Ruentex business empire and well known for his philanthropic efforts especially in education, to recognize those who have contributed concrete solutions to challenges faced by the world today.
“I wanted to found a prize to reflect the new challenges faced by humanity—such as climate change, energy shortages, emerging diseases, clashes of cultures and ideas, and shifting world orders. I hope that the prize will encourage more research to meet those challenges, promote Chinese culture and make the world a better place,” Dr. Yin said.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Tang Prize.
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