Autoimmune Disease Researcher Honored with Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, and the Institut Pasteur, an internationally renowned center for biomedical research, recently honored four researchers with the Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Awards 2015 for their work in the fields of immunology and tropical and neglected diseases.

One of the awardees, laureate in the Senior category, is Professor Emil Unanue from the Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Missouri, whose research focus is immunology. Professor Unanue has concentrated on the mechanisms by which the immune system recognizes proteins, and his work has opened new avenues in the development of therapies for autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis.

The awards, now in their fourth year, started in 2012 with Sanofi and the Institut Pasteur joining together to encourage and support scientific excellence and innovation in global health. The jury selecting the laureates comprised 11 distinguished and independent members of the research community. In total, the prizes awarded amount to 300,000 euros.

The awardees received their prizes at a Nov. 4 ceremony at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, in the presence of the jury members, the President of the Institut Pasteur, Professor Christian Bréchot, and the Chief Executive Officer of Sanofi, Dr. Olivier Brandicourt.

“The Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Awards are today among the most prestigious international scientific prizes with the strongest allocation” said Professor Bréchot in a Sanofi press release. “We are proud to welcome the new promotion of the laureates of the Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Awards whose contributions enable to make concrete progress in the field of life sciences.”

“The Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Awards show our long-term commitment to scientific progress,” added Dr. Brandicourt. “The therapeutic areas in which the researchers were attributed today the Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Awards remind us that a lot still needs to be accomplished in the field of global health.”

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optical nerves) is attacked by the body’s own immune system, ultimately leading to motor function impairment, irreversible neurological disability, and paralysis. More than 2.3 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from MS, and there is currently no cure for the disease.

For more information on Professor Unanue’s work in autoimmune diseases, watch this video.

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