Michel C. Nussenzweig, an immunologist who studies the molecular aspects of adaptive and innate immune responses, has been honored with the 2017 Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award. The award recognizes investigators for past or ongoing work demonstrating real scientific progress in the life sciences.
Nussenzweig received the international award along with Jeffrey I. Gordon of Washington University and Antonio Lanzavecchia of the University of Lugano in Switzerland. The three scientists, along with two national junior award recipients, were honored at a ceremony today at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.
Nussenzweig is Zanvil A. Cohn and Ralph M. Steinman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. His work on adaptive immunity focuses on B lymphocytes and antibodies to HIV, while his studies of innate immunity target dendritic cells. Nussenzweig’s research has led to the development of innovative novel vaccines against pathogens and to new treatments for autoimmunity.
Much of the work in Nussenzweig’s lab centers on isolating and cloning highly potent human antibodies for use in clinical studies of HIV prevention and therapy. In clinical trials conducted at The Rockefeller University Hospital, a broadly neutralizing antibody—which Nussenzweig isolated from an HIV-infected patient whose immune system had an exceptional ability to neutralize HIV in the blood—was shown to interfere with chronic HIV infection in ways that traditional antiretroviral therapy does not, suggesting it might lead to long-term control of the virus. Nussenzweig’s approach to the use of antibodies has helped establish a new paradigm for developing therapies, opening new horizons in the search for vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases.
Nussenzweig, who is also senior physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital and director of the Christopher H. Browne Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases, is the third Rockefeller University faculty member to receive the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award. Previous recipients are Jeffrey V. Ravetch in 2012 and Jean-Laurent Casanova in 2014.