Five of the world's leading cystic fibrosis researchers were honored by the Warren Alpert Foundation for pioneering discoveries that led to the development of the first disease-modifying treatments for CF. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation also received special acknowledgement for its role in driving scientific progress in CF -- marking the first time the Alpert Foundation has recognized an organization.
The honorees' respective contributions were the focus of a scientific symposium on Oct. 4 at Harvard Medical School. Preston W. Campbell, III, M.D., president and CEO of the CF Foundation, delivered the keynote address at an award ceremony, describing the fundamental impact these discoveries continue to have on people with CF and highlighting the critical role the CF community played in supporting those advances.
“This year's Alpert Prize awardees have transformed the day-to-day lives of many individuals with CF and laid a foundation for exciting therapeutic developments that are still to come,” said Dr. Campbell. “We are forever grateful for their groundbreaking work and their inspiring commitment to collaboration. CF first emerged as a promising area of study because of the foresight and fierce determination of a small group of parents who were resolved to create a better future for their children. This remarkable group of scientists embodies the spirit that drove those early parents, and it is my great privilege to thank each of them today on behalf of all people with CF.”
The CF Foundation is committed to building on these achievements through our ongoing research to identify treatments for all people with CF, including individuals with advanced disease.
The 2018 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize recipients are:
- Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health; and Lap-Chee Tsui, Founding President, The Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong and University Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto; who together led the international team of scientists that discovered the CFTR gene in 1989.
- Michael Welsh, Professor of Internal Medicine - Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Occupational Medicine, University of Iowa, who discovered how mutations in the CFTR gene lead to CF and demonstrated that correcting the CFTR protein could restore defective chloride transport.
- Paul Negulescu, Senior Vice President for Research, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, who, together with his team, was instrumental in developing the first precision medicines to treat the underlying cause of CF.
- Bonnie Ramsey, Vice Chair and Endowed Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine; Director, Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Seattle Children's Research Institute; who helped facilitate the clinical study of breakthrough CF treatments by establishing the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Development Network and overseeing its rapid growth and success during her 16-year tenure as its executive director.
The CF Foundation provided financial support and scientific expertise across all these endeavors and facilitated collaboration among academic and industry researchers at pivotal moments.
“The successes we celebrate today are an instructive lesson in the power of collaboration among basic scientists, translational researchers, and front-line clinicians,” said George Q. Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School. “Just as importantly, these achievements remind us how much we can do when academicians, industry scientists, and nonprofit partners come together, sharing their acumen, talent, and passion on a common mission to alleviate human suffering caused by disease.”
Previous Alpert Award recipients include 2018 Nobel laureates James Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.
You can read more about the Alpert Prize and the specific achievements of each award recipient in the Alpert Foundation press release.