Alexander Varshavsky, Ph.D., whose discoveries transformed the understanding of how cell behavior impacts cancer, autoimmune disorders and other illnesses, has been selected to receive the 2014 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research.
Varshavsky is the Howard and Gwen Laurie Smits Professor of Cell Biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. He received the award in recognition of the seminal discoveries he made on intracellular protein degradation.
Varshavsky is best known for his discoveries related to fundamental aspects of cellular mechanisms that control cell growth and division, responses to stress, and many other biological processes. His insights into what is known as the “ubiquitin system of intracellular protein degradation” underlie one of the most promising and active avenues for development of new drugs for treating cancer, neurodegeneration syndromes, autoimmune disorders and other major diseases.
“To say he is one of the foremost researchers of our times is an understatement,” said James J. Barba, president and chief executive officer of Albany Medical Center and chair of the National Selection Committee. “Dr. Varshavsky’s numerous stunning discoveries in the laboratory over more than three decades have already led to new drugs to treat blood cancer, and hold promise for more treatments for so many devastating diseases. Today, the results of his work are standard in biology classes and a solid foundation in biomedical research,”
The $500,000 award has been given annually since 2001 to those who have altered the course of medical research. It will be formally awarded on May 21 during a celebration at Albany Medical Center.