A Tel Aviv University scholar won a prestigious award for his work in the field of cancer research, the university announced Monday.
Professor Isaac P. Witz, TAU’s Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, was chosen by the prize selection committee of the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) in the US to receive the prestigious Szent-Györgyi Prize for his groundbreaking scientific contributions.
The Prize honors scientists whose seminal discovery or pioneering body of work has contributed to cancer prevention, diagnosis, or treatment and has had a lasting impact on understanding cancer, holding the promise of improving or saving lives of cancer patients.
“It is an absolute honor, and I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude towards the 2023 Szent-Györgyi Prize Selection Committee for bestowing upon me this prestigious recognition, allowing me to stand alongside the esteemed previous recipients of the Szent-Györgyi Prize," Witz said.
Over the course of a career spanning more than fifty years, Witz’s work has shed light on the crucial role of reciprocal information flow and signaling between cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment (TME) for understanding tumor formation, progression and metastasis.
"I am filled with immense gratification knowing that my contributions have shaped current understanding of the TME and laid the foundation for life-saving immunotherapies for patients,” he said.
During the early stages of his scientific journey, in the 1960s, Professor Witz pioneered the TME concept through an experimental demonstration that components of the immune system infiltrate the TME, impacting tumor behavior. His research established that humoral immune factors localized in the TME exert pivotal roles in various manifestations of anti-tumor immune responses. These seminal findings laid the groundwork for certain aspects of contemporary life-saving immunotherapies, ultimately benefiting cancer patients and advancing scientific progress toward finding cures for cancer.
Witz currently serves as Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University and heads the Laboratory of Tumor Microenvironment & Metastasis Research at The Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences.
Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D., Chair of the 2023 Selection Committee and the 2022 Prize recipient, expressed his delight at his selection, highlighting the impact of his work on the development of cancer therapeutics targeting molecules within the TME. Jain, whose own research encompasses the field of TME, believes that future opportunities for life-saving therapies will continue to emerge from this area of study.
Witz will receive the award at a ceremony scheduled for October 21, 2023, at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
This article was written in cooperation with Tel Aviv University.