2014 Harvey Prize

Technion Announces Winners of the 2014 Harvey Prize:

James P. Allison and Reinhard Genzel

The 2014 Harvey Prize will be awarded to prominent cancer researcher, Prof. James P. Allison, and leading astrophysicist Prof. Reinhard Genzel.

About 20% of Harvey Prize winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

Prof. James P. Allison

Prof. James P. Allison

The Technion will award the 2014 Harvey Prize in Human Health to Prof. James P. Allison, an immunologist from the University of Texas, and the 2014 Harvey Prize in Science & Technology to Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel (for Science & Technology), an astrophysicist from the Max Planck Institute in Germany. The prize, in the amount of $75,000 US, is named after Leo Harvey (1973-1887), and is awarded annually to men and women who have made significant contributions to humanity.

It has been found that about 20% of the prize winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, among them Dr. Shoji Nakamura, who today is receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source – the blue light-emitting diode (LED).

Professor James P. Allison, the Chairman of the Department of Immunology at The MD Anderson Cancer Center, will receive the Harvey Prize for developing a new paradigm for cancer treatment and for his theoretical and practical contributions to cancer treatment. The MD Anderson Institute, affiliated with the University of Texas, is ranked as one of the nation’s best hospitals for cancer care in the United States.

Allison, who was born in Texas in 1948, specializes in the field of immunotherapy – treatment by means of strengthening the immune system – particularly in the context of cancer treatment. Allison has a longstanding interest in T cells, which play an important role in the immune system, and his research led him to discover a T-cell inhibitory molecule (known as CTLA-4) which can prevent them from attacking tumors. Following this discovery, Alison developed an antibody to block this inhibitory molecule in the hope that it will enhance anti-tumor immune responses and tumor rejection. His research led to the clinical development of ipilimumab (Yervoy™), which was approved in May 2011 by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Today, Allison investigates possibilities for applying this drug and similar inhibitory drugs-treatments in treating other forms of cancer.

Professor Reinhard Genzel

Prof. Reinhard Genzel

Professor Reinhard Genzel will receive the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology on showing that a black hole exists at the center of the Milky Way (our galaxy). Genzel, who was born in 1952, is a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley and is the Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. In 2002, Genzel discovered, along with research colleagues in Germany and California, a massive object at the center of the galaxy whose size was smaller than that of the solar system, yet its mass was more than 3 or 4 million than the mass of the sun, in other words, a very massive black hole. This determination was based on the exceptional acceleration of stars surrounding the galactic center. Genzel used innovative optical methods and infrared photography to overcome atmospheric disturbances and particles floating in space.

The Harvey Prize awarded by the Technion was first given in 1972 by the foundation established by Leo M. Harvey (1887-1973) from Los Angeles, in order to recognize significant contributions in the advancement of humankind in the areas of science and technology, human health and peace in the Middle East. The prestigious Harvey Prize has been awarded to scientists from the United States, Britain, Russia, Sweden, France and Israel, among them Nobel Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the USSR, awarded the Harvey Prize in appreciation of his seminal initiatives and policies to lessen regional tensions; Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Professor Bert Sakmann; Nobel Laureate in Physics, Professor Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, Professor Edward Teller for his discoveries in solid state physics, atomic and nuclear energy; and Professor William J. Kolff  for his invention of the artificial kidney.

The prize ceremony will take place at the Technion on February 17, 2015.

In the photos:  

Prof. James P. Allison – image courtesy of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Prof. Reinhard Genzel – image courtesy of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics