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Shaw prize for protein folding studies

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2012 - Autumn


Arthur Horwich, M.D., HS ’78, Sterling Professor of Genetics, professor of pediatrics, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, received the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine in May. Horwich is a co-winner, with his longtime collaborator Franz-Ulrich Hartl, M.D., Ph.D., of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, for their research on how proteins fold into their functional state. The award, which comes with a $1 million prize, was announced by the Shaw Prize Foundation in Hong Kong.

Horwich and Hartl found that specialized proteins called chaperonins help proteins fold correctly within the cell. Their findings have implications for treating several diseases, because improperly folded proteins can clump together and are implicated in such neurodegenerative illnesses as Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, Huntington disease, mad cow disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The Shaw Prizes, three annual awards in astronomy, life science and medicine, and mathematical sciences, honor living individuals who have achieved breakthroughs in academic and scientific research. The prizes are dedicated to furthering societal progress, enhancing quality of life, and enriching humanity’s spiritual civilization.