Three scientists to receive Novartis prizes for immunology

NovartisThe Novartis Prizes for Immunology are awarded to three scientists for their groundbreaking research into the biology of immune system T cells that advanced the prevention and treatment of a variety of diseases. The Prize ceremony will take place at the 15th International Congress of Immunology in Milan, Italy on August 23, 2013. The Novartis Prize for Basic Immunology 2013 is shared by Tim R. Mossman, Ph.D., Director of the Human Immunology Center at the University of Rochester and Robert L. Coffman, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Dynavax.

While working together in the 1980s at DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA, they determined the distinct functions of two T-helper cell subsets - with Th1 playing a major role in cellular immunity critical for resistance to infections, whereas Th2 cells can induce allergic diseases. They also found that dysregulation of Th1 and Th2 cell functions was implicated in many immunological diseases.

"The fundamental discovery by Drs. Mossman and Coffman of the specific types of T cells that helped either cellular or humoral (antibody-mediated) immunity revolutionized our understanding of how the immune system works, and led to major advances in designing therapies for infectious, inflammatory and allergic diseases and in vaccine design," said Dhaval Patel, Head, NIBR Europe and Global Head of Autoimmunity, Transplantation and Immunology.

The Novartis Prize for Clinical Immunology 2013 is awarded to James Allison, Ph.D., Chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Immunology, for research that is thwarting cancer's ability to evade attack by the immune system.

In the 1990s his study in mice demonstrated that CTLA-4, a molecule expressed on T cells, blocks the body's natural immune response. An antibody he developed against CTLA-4 inhibits tumor growth in mice, and has evolved into Ipilimumab, a successful treatment for advanced-stage melanoma in humans.

"I admire Dr. Allison's vision, drive, and perseverance in testing his immunomodulatory approach in humans, which will positively impact many patients with cancer," said Patel. "His discovery has not only given us new tools, but a new way of thinking about fighting cancer."

About the Novartis Prizes for Immunology
Established in 1990, The Novartis Prizes for Immunology are awarded every three years for breakthrough contributions to the fields of basic and clinical immunology as judged by an independent panel of experts. Each of the two Prizes is endowed for 100,000 CHF. One fifth of each prize is awarded in personal recognition of exceptional individual achievements, while the remainder is intended to support the prize winner's research. The prizes were established both to honor outstanding research in the most challenging areas of immunology-based science and to increase interactions between scientists in academia and industry.

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2012, the Group achieved net sales of USD 56.7 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.3 billion (USD 9.1 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 129,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world.