Silvia Arber (left) and Caetano Reis e Sousa

Neurobiologist Silvia Arber of Switzerland and immunologist Caetano Reis e Sousa of Portugal were named the winners of the 2017 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine. Both will present lectures during the 2017
ASCB|EMBO Meeting in Philadelphia.

Arber, professor of neurobiology at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland, is also a senior group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute (FMI) in Basel. Reis e Sousa is a senior group leader at the Francis Crick Institute, United Kingdom.

Arber was chosen for her contributions to the understanding of how movement is controlled in mammals. Arber’s laboratory has investigated how neuronal circuits control and orchestrate movement and has thus contributed to a better understanding of how motor commands for specific actions are generated. Since diseases of the nervous system frequently lead to movement disorders, and spinal cord injury causes immobility, her work is essential for the development of future therapeutic interventions. Arber said she will use the prize money to conduct further research on how neuronal circuits regulate the diversification of motor behavioral programs.

Reis e Sousa was named for his contribution to the understanding of the mechanisms by which the immune system senses pathogen invasion and tissue damage. The immune system detects and responds to infections as well as destroys abnormal cells, thereby acting as a line of defense from many cancers. Reis e Sousa’s laboratory has made a series of seminal observations that place dendritic cells, key antigen-presenting cells, as the major sensors of invading pathogens, as well as of dying, infected, and cancer cells. His work has implications for the development of new vaccines and the treatment of cancer by immunotherapy.

Established in 1982 by the Louis-Jeantet Foundation, the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine seeks to advance the role and identity of European biomedical research. The prize carries with it a cash award of approximately $731,000. EMBO and the Louis-Jeantet Foundation jointly promote the winners’ research through the publication of their work in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine and by sponsoring the Louis-Jeantet Prize Lectures, which occur Tuesday, December 5 at 9:45 am.

Mary Spiro

Mary Spiro is ASCB's Science Writer and Social Media Manager.