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Charles M. Rice awarded Dautrebande Prize

Charles M. Rice, Maurice R. and Corinne P. Greenberg Professor in Virology and head of the Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease, has been given the Prize of Pathophysiology Professor Lucien Dautrebande from the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine for his description of the molecular and cellular basis of hepatitis C infection in humans.

The prize, which includes 100,000 euros, is given every three years to an individual or team of researchers who have contributed to the progress of human or animal pathophysiology, with particular reference to advances in therapy. The Dautrebande Foundation noted that Rice’s research was vital to the development of anti-viral drugs for hepatitis C.

Lucien Dautrebande was a professor of pharmacology at the University of Liege in Belgium exploring problems of the respiratory system. In his will, Dautrebande left much of his wealth to the establishment of a prize dedicated to pathophysiology and therapeutics.

Rice is scientific and executive director of the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C, an interdisciplinary center established jointly by The Rockefeller University, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College. Rice’s lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms of hepatitis C virus replication, dissecting host responses to infection and developing new therapies and vaccines to fight the virus and other infectious diseases. The Rice lab has analyzed the biochemistry and structure of several hepatitis C virus proteins and revealed unexpected insights of the viral helicase at work. The lab has also identified two receptors involved in virus entry into cells, areas that may serve as therapeutic targets. In addition, the lab has developed methods of watching the infection spread through a culture in real time, which may speed the discovery of new therapeutics.

Rice received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1981 from the California Institute of Technology, where he was then a postdoctoral research fellow from 1981 to 1985. Before he joined Rockefeller in 2000, he spent 14 years on the faculty of the Washington University School of Medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The award will be given at a ceremony at the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine early next year. Rice is the second Rockefeller researcher and the third person from the United States to be honored with the award since its founding in 1973. Jean-Laurent Casanova, senior attending physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital and head of the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases received the award in 2004 while at the Necker Medical School in Paris.