Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Release: Distinguished Achievement Awards Go To Seven Leading Researchers For Groundbreaking Discoveries; $6.5 Million In No-Strings-Attached Grants Support 13 Scientists For Cutting Edge Biomedical Research Across Three Conti

NEW YORK, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Honoring groundbreaking achievements as well as supporting cutting-edge research are the themes of this year's Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Freedom to Discover Distinguished Achievements Awards presentations and new grants announcements at the American Museum of Natural History. Seven pioneers -- in cancer, nutrition, neuroscience, cardiovascular, infectious diseases, metabolic diseases and synthetic organic chemistry -- are being recognized at a gala dinner, where 13 leading researchers also were awarded a total of $6.5 million in unrestricted grants to support important biomedical research.

"Science often is a process that builds on past achievements to gain new insights. Sometimes, it is about striking out in entirely new directions," said Peter R. Dolan, Bristol-Myers Squibb chief executive officer. "The Bristol-Myers Squibb Freedom to Discover program encourages radically new ways of thinking in the discovery process. As the need for innovative treatments and the basic scientific understanding that will lead to them becomes ever greater, the importance of unrestricted research funding grows."

Since 1977, the Freedom to Discover Unrestricted Biomedical Grants and Awards program, sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, has committed more than $110 million in 277 grants to more than 155 research institutions in 23 countries. The grants -- of a half million dollars each to be used as the researchers see fit -- come with no strings attached. In addition, Distinguished Achievement Awardees each receive $50,000 and a medal. An independent peer-review committee comprised of the principal investigators of Bristol-Myers Squibb unrestricted research grants selects the Distinguished Achievement Award recipient in each field. Seventeen previous award winners have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.

Unrestricted Grant Awards

This year's recipients of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Freedom to Discover Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grants are being given five-year grants to support their freedom to discover -- without the bureaucratic entanglements and need to justify new directions in support of their research. Their work also focuses on the seven areas for which Distinguished Achievement Award winners were named.

The 13 scientists selected represent a global snapshot of leading edge research, eight at U.S. institutions and five at research institutions in Europe and Japan. Among efforts being supported are:

* New approaches to combating Alzheimer's disease by interrupting the plaque formation process in the brain * New genetic clues to body weight regulation that could provide therapeutic tools for the treatment of obesity and diabetes * Finding new ways to boost the body's immune system to fight cancer, as well as developing potentially groundbreaking cancer vaccines * Developing new genetic tools to help determine which patients can benefit from certain breast cancer therapies * New insights into the role that lipids play in inflammation and atherosclerosis The institutions and principal investigators receiving the grants follow:

Cancer: University of Pennsylvania, Abramson Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Principal Investigator: Carl H. June, M.D., director, Translational Research and professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, for work in cancer immunotherapy and designing individualized cancer vaccines.

Cancer: Institut Jules Bordet, Brussels, Belgium; Principal Investigator: Martine J. Piccart-Gebhart, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, and head, Medicine Department, Institut Jules Bordet, for her work in developing genetic tools that can better predict which breast cancer patients will respond to certain therapies.

Nutrition: University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois; Principal Investigator: Sharon M. Donovan, Ph.D., R.D., Melissa N. Noel Endowed Professor of Nutrition and Health, Division of Nutritional Sciences, to investigate the impact of nutrition on the developing intestine and the translation of research from model systems to clinical applications.

Neuroscience: Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Principal Investigator: Bart De Strooper, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and program director for biomedical sciences, for his ongoing efforts to understand how enzymes called secretases may play a central role in the regulation of plaque formation in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Neuroscience: University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Principal Investigator: Laurence H. Tecott, M.D., Ph.D., associate director, UCSF Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry, associate director, UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease and professor of psychiatry, to support the use of novel large-scale behavioral data acquisition techniques, combined with the tools of information technology and concepts derived from the study of instinctual animal behavior, to develop sensitive behavioral bioassays of brain function.

Cardiovascular Diseases: Technische Universitat Munchen, Munich, Germany; Principal Investigator: Markus Schwaiger, M.D., professor and director, Department of Nuclear Medicine and director of research, Institute of Radiology, Deutsches Herzzentrum Munchen, to study multiple aspects of cardiovascular imaging including cardiovascular PET imaging.

Cardiovascular Diseases: Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan; Principal Investigator: Toru Kita, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chairman, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, to investigate the role lipoproteins and oxidized lipids have on inflammation and atherosclerosis.

Infectious Diseases: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama; Principal Investigator: Beatrice H. Hahn, M.D., professor, Department of Medicine and Microbiology and co-director, Center for AIDS Research, to study the origins and evolution of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses, HIV/SIV gene function and disease mechanisms from an evolutionary perspective.

Infectious Diseases: University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Principal Investigator: Anna Lok, M.D., F.R.C.P., professor of internal medicine and director of clinical hepatology, to support continued research on understanding how hepatitis B virus causes liver disease and to use this information to develop effective treatment paradigms.

Metabolic Diseases: Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, San Francisco, California; Principal Investigator: Robert V. Farese, Jr., M.D., senior investigator, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco, to support research on the role of triglyceride metabolism in the regulation of body weight and insulin sensitivity.

Metabolic Diseases: Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon; Principal Investigator: Roger D. Cone, Ph.D., senior scientist, Vollum Institute and director, Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders, focusing on the physiology and pharmacology of body weight regulation by the central nervous system.

Synthetic Organic Chemistry: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California; Principal Investigator: Brian M. Stoltz, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, for the discovery and development of new methodologies for forming carbon-carbon bonds and oxidation reactions and the synthesis of natural products and bioactive molecules.

Synthetic Organic Chemistry: University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California; Principal Investigator: F. Dean Toste, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, to support the design of metal catalysts and metal-catalyzed reactions and the application of these methods to chemical synthesis.

Distinguished Achievement Awards

The pioneering efforts for which this year's Award winners were honored ranged from developing insights that could open up new approaches to treating obesity and diabetes, to discoveries of how cancers develop; from the genetics of hearing to new views of viruses, from cardiac arrhythmias genes to public health studies linking nutrition to chronic diseases and advances in methodologies to synthesize new drugs.

This year's Distinguished Achievement Award winners are:

Metabolic Diseases: Salih J. Wakil, Ph.D., L.T. Bolin professor and chairman, Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, for groundbreaking work in fatty acid metabolism, including discovering pathways for fatty acid synthesis leading to insights for new drug targets for obesity and diabetes.

Cancer: Alfred G. Knudson Jr., M.D., Ph.D., distinguished scientist and senior advisor to the president of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, for developing the "two-hit" model for how cancers develop when tumor suppressor genes are damaged, including the role of heredity in cancer development.

Neuroscience: Christine Petit, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Genetics Unit for Sensory Deficits at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, for discovering the molecular basis of hearing and genetic causes of deafness.

Infectious Diseases: Stephen C. Harrison, Ph.D., professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, for pioneering virus X-ray crystallography, including determining the first 3-D structure of a virus, as well as virus structures related to HIV.

Nutrition: Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr. P. H., chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, for landmark advances in nutritional epidemiology, including developing large-scale cohort studies that have uncovered relationships between nutrition and chronic diseases.

Cardiovascular Diseases: Mark T. Keating, M.D., professor of cell biology and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, for revolutionizing our understanding of cardiac arrhythmias by discovering arrhythmia genes.

Synthetic Organic Chemistry: Stephen L. Buchwald, Ph.D., Camille Dreyfus professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, for achievements in developing transition metal-catalyzed coupling methodology, enabling the construction of complex and pharmaceutically important compounds.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical and related health care products company whose mission is to extend and enhance human life.

Visit Bristol-Myers Squibb on the World Wide Web at and the Freedom to Discover program at

Bristol-Myers Squibb

CONTACT: Becky Taylor, Corporate Communications of Bristol-Myers Squibb,+1-609-252-4476,; or Jennifer Lolli of JS2Communications, +1-212-905-6261,, for Bristol-MyersSquibb

Back to news