Yale geneticist Horwich receives the prestigious 2016 Albany Prize
Yale’s Dr. Arthur L. Horwich is one of three recipients of the 2016 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, one of the most prestigious prizes in medicine, the medical center announced Aug. 3.
Horwich is Sterling Professor of Genetics, professor of pediatrics, and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He, Dr. F. Ulrich Hartl of the Max Planck Institute, and Susan Lindquist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will share the $500,000 prize for their discoveries about the biology of protein folding.
Proteins must be folded in proper three-dimensional structure to carry out their functions, which are crucial to all life. The scientists have shown this folding inside cells does not occur spontaneously as previously believed but depends upon molecular “assistants” in a process called “chaperone-mediated protein folding.”
“Protein folding is a concept considered revolutionary in modern biology, with important implications for the treatment or delay of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and other neurodegenerative conditions, as well as cancer and drug resistance,” said Dr. Vincent Verdile, the Lynne and Mark Groban, M.D. ’69, Distinguished Dean of Albany Medical College and chair of the Albany Prize National Selection Committee.
A Chicago native, Horwich received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University, and trained in pediatrics at Yale University. He served as a postdoctoral fellow first at Salk Institute in the Tumor Virology Laboratory and then in Yale’s genetics department before joining the Yale faculty.
He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2011 and the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine in 2012. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.
Horwich has studied ALS for several years, focusing on protein quality control mechanisms, among other things, in an effort to understand exactly what is causing the motor failure and paralysis, hallmarks of the disease.
Three previous Nobel Prize winners have been among the ranks of researchers honored by Albany Prize, and five Albany Prize recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.