On the 5th of June, 2013, Dr Ruslan Medzhitov, professor for immunobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine and a member scientist at HHMI, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, received the Else Kröner Fresenius Award endowed with 4 million euros from Johanna Wanka, the German Federal Minister for Education and Research. With the first-time awarding in honour of the 25th anniversary of the death of Else Kröner, the foundation’s founder, the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS) has announced the establishment of a medical research prize to be awarded every four years.
The presentation of the Else Kröner Fresenius Award serves to acknowledge quintessential discoveries in the field of immunology as well as to support highly innovative and clinically relevant future research. The work performed by the award-winning Dr Medzhitov has made a fundamental contribution towards understanding the interaction between the congenital immune system, which represents the primary and immediate line of defence against infections, and the adaptive immune system. Ruslan Medzhitov identified the human toll-like receptor (TLR) and investigated its role in the activation of inflammatory reactions and immune responses. Even as a young scientist Dr Medzhitov readily received many honours. Among others, since 2001 he has numbered among the investigators at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Whereas 0.5 million euros of the prize money are stipulated towards personal use, the remaining 3.5 million euros shall be made available for future work on the part of Dr Ruslan Medzhitov and his team of researchers involving young, up-and-coming scientists. To a large extent they will be turning their attention to previously unexplored fields within immunobiology. These fields include the potentially harmful bodily reactions that go hand-in-hand with immune defence against pathogens (immunopathology) and an organism’s ability to tolerate microorganisms without becoming diseased as a result.
The award-winner was determined in close co-operation with the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS). A jury comprised of internationally prominent immunologists evaluated all the nominations and ultimately designated the winner at the end of a thorough, multi-stage selection process. The jury was chaired by Professor Stefan H. E. Kaufmann from Berlin, the president of IUIS.