Technion announces Harvey Prize winners for 2014

Winners of award have a one-in-five statistical chance of winning a Nobel Prize.

December 10, 2014 17:00
2 minute read.
Prof. James P. Allison and Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel.

Prof. James P. Allison and Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel, recipients of the prestigious Harvey Prizes for 2014.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

An American molecular immunologist oncologist and a German-American physicist are the winners of the prestigious Harvey Prizes for 2014, Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology announced on Wednesday.

The Harvey Prize recognizes breakthroughs in science and technology by people who have contributed to the progress of humanity or to peace in the Middle East. Named after industrialist and inventor Leo Harvey, it offers two awards annually, each $75,000. The winners, who will receive their award on campus on February 17, have a one-in-five statistical chance of winning a Nobel Prize, based on past winners.

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One of this year’s winners is Prof. James P. Allison, an immunologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, where he has been chairman of the immunology department since 2012. The center is considered the leading institution of its kind in the US. Also the director of the Cancer Research Institute Scientific Advisory Council, he has a longstanding interest in mechanisms of T-cell development and activation, as well as the development of novel strategies for tumor immunotherapy.

He is recognized as the first person to isolate the T-cell antigen receptor complex protein.

His research in the 1990s at the University of California at Berkeley led to the clinical development of ipilimumab, a biological anti-cancer drug that the US Food and Drug Administration approved three years ago for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Previously Allison was director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy and the chairman of the immunology program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The second laureate is Prof.

Dr. Reinhard Genzel of UC Berkeley, who also heads the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany.

He and his colleagues in the US and Germany discovered that in the center of the galaxy is an object smaller than the Solar System but with a mass three to four million times the sun’s – that is, a huge black hole.

He received his doctorate in physics and astronomy in 1978 at the University of Bonn with a thesis in radio astronomy prepared at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn. Between 1978 and 1980, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, focusing on radio very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) and mid-infrared studies of galactic-star forming regions; then he went on to UC Berkeley to work on far-infrared spectroscopy. He has spent years studying the galactic center, active galactic nuclei and star formation in galaxies at high-redshift with state of the art infrared instruments developed at the institute.

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