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21 January, 2016 - 15:43 By Kate Sweeney

Jackson shares $200k King Faisal prize with Harvard scientist

Professor Steve Jackson of the Gurdon Institute

The coveted King Faisal International Prize for Science has been won jointly by the Cambridge-based Gurdon Institute's Steve Jackson and Harvard Medical School's Vamsi Krishna Mootha; they share the $200,000 cash element of the award.

Professor Jackson is recognised for “his outstanding contribution to defining the link between the basic mechanism of genomic DNA instability and its relationship to cancer.”

The citation adds: “Specifically, he unravelled the salient components of the pathway involved in DNA repair. He is also credited with an innovative approach to bring his findings into tangible therapeutic products to treat cancer.”

Professor Jackson, also the mastermind behind MISSION Therapeutics, said: “It is a great honour to receive the 2016 King Faisal International Prize for Science. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the many dedicated, innovative and highly talented people who have worked in my laboratory over the years, as it is their groundbreaking science that led to me receiving this award.”

Prof Vamsi Krishna Mootha is jointly awarded for his “use of the mitochondrion (the cellular power plant) as a model to identify the link between pivotal molecular factors involved in mitochondrial dysfunction and major human diseases such as diabetes and other metabolic disorders.”

The prize includesa certificate written in Arabic calligraphy, describing the work for which the winner is awarded the prize; a commemorative 24-carat, 200g gold medallion; $200,000 (shared between co-winners).

Professor Jackson will receive the award in an official ceremony to be held in Riyadh in March 2016, under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques – King Salman Ibn Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia.

The King Faisal International Prize is awarded annually in five disciplines: Science, Medicine, Service to Islam, Islamic Studies, and Arabic Language and Literature. It is given by the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based King Faisal Foundation, a philanthropic organisation established in 1976 by the sons and daughters of the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz in commemoration of their father.

Nominations for the prize are peer reviewed and an international selection committee meets at the Foundation's headquarters to choose the winners. The science prize was first awarded in 1984; the most recent winner in the field of biology was Prof. Alexander J. Varchavsky of CalTech, in 2012.
 

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