The 2016 Louis-Jeantet Prize Winners

The 2016 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine is awarded to Andrea Ballabio, founder and director of the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM), Italy, and to the biochemist John Diffley, associate research director at the Francis Crick Institute, United Kingdom.

The prize winners are conducting fundamental biological research that is expected to be of considerable significance for medicine.

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The AWARD CEREMONY will be held in Geneva (Switzerland) on Wednesday, 20 April 2016.

ANDREA BALLABIO of Italy is awarded the 2016 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for his contribution to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling the function of lysosomes in health and disease.

Lysosomes are organelles responsible for the degradation of cellular waste. A growing number of diseases are associated to lysosomal dysfunction such as neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, obesity and infections. Andrea Ballabio’s group identified a master gene that globally controls lysosomal function and promotes intracellular clearance of accumulating pathological materials. These observations revealed a new biological pathway and provided a tool to modulate lysosomal function to treat human diseases.

Andrea Ballabio will use the prize money to conduct further research on the biological mechanisms that regulate lysosomal function and on methods to modulate the activity of lysosomes in human diseases.

JOHN DIFFLEY, American/British dual national, is awarded the 2016 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine for his contributions to understanding how DNA replication, a process essential to life, initiates.

When a cell in an organism divides to yield two identical daughter cells, its DNA is first duplicated, or “replicated”, as two identical copies. John Diffley has become one of the worldwide leaders in the study of the mechanisms governing this process of duplication. His work has allowed us to understand how DNA replication is initiated, and how it is subsequently regulated throughout the cell cycle and in response to DNA damage. Since any mistakes in this process can lead to genetic mutations causing tumours, this research could be significant in the fight against cancer.

John Diffley will use the prize money to conduct further research into the mechanisms involved in the replication of chromosomes in yeast and human cells.