Header Richard Lounsbery Award

Header Richard Lounsbery Award

About the Richard Lounsbery Award

The Richard Lounsbery Award is a $50,000 prize given in alternate years to young French and American scientists to recognize extraordinary scientific achievement in biology and medicine. It is administered in alternate years by the National Academy of Sciences and the French Académie des Sciences. In addition to honoring scientific excellence, the award is intended to stimulate research and encourage reciprocal scientific exchanges between the United States and France. The Richard Lounsbery Award was established by Vera Lounsbery in honor of her husband, Richard Lounsbery, and is supported by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.

Most Recent Recipient

Pardis Christine Sabeti will receive the 2017 Richard Lounsbery Award. A geneticist-virologist with a passion for global health, Sabeti’s groundbreaking contributions include the development of new methods to study evolutionary selection in humans and viruses; the creation of new collaborative models for combatting emerging diseases across disciplinary and national borders; and leadership of global efforts to increase data sharing in pandemics, including Ebola and Lassa fever.

Her early work created a number of statistical tests based on genetic diversity and haplotype structure, which can be used to scan the entire human genome for examples of beneficial adaptive variation. These led to the identification of hundreds of genetic loci with evidence of recent natural selection in populations on three continents, and uncovered adaptation for lactose tolerance, thermoregulation, and resistance to infectious diseases. 

Sabeti’s work also targeted the genetics of malaria, examining the genomic variations in the malaria parasite around the world and identifying loci under natural selection and driving resistance to anti-malarial drugs.

Most recently, Sabeti and her colleagues have published landmark genomic studies of Ebola and Lassa virus. Her team’s breakthrough 2014 paper in Science confirmed that the Ebola virus had spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone, indicated that human-to-human transmission was sustaining the outbreak, and elucidated specific transmission events. Their work revealed where and how quickly mutations were occurring, information fundamental to designing effective diagnostics, vaccines and antibody-based therapies. The efforts continue alongside the African Center of Excellence of Genomics of Infectious Disease, an organization she and her partners launched in 2014 to enhance education and research capacity in Africa. Read more about Sabeti's work    


First awarded in 1979 to Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein for their work in cholesterol biosynthesis, the Richard Lounsbery Award has been at the forefront of recognizing some of the most significant discoveries in the biomedical sciences by leading U.S. and French researchers. The Lounsbery Award has been the precursor to nine Lasker Awards (Brown and Goldstein, 1985; Leder, 1987; Gilman, 1989; Blobel, 1993; Prusiner, 1994; Rothman, 2002; Chambon, 2004; Greider, 2006), and eight recipients of the Lounsbery Award have received the Nobel Prize (Brown and Goldstein, 1985; Gilman and Rodbell, 1994; Prusiner, 1997; Blobel, 1999; Axel, 2004; Greider, 2009; Rothman, 2013).


Yohann Bellaiche (2018)
For his work on the genetic and mechanical regulation that underlies tissue proliferation, homeostasis and repair in physiological and pathological conditions (using a combination of interdisciplinary approaches involving sophisticated imaging, genetics, large-scale molecular approaches, and computational analyses) including the mechanisms of local and long-range mechano-sensing during cytokinesis that remodel the dividing cell adherens junction. 

Pardis Christine Sabeti (2017)
For groundbreaking contributions to genetics and global health, including development of new methods to study evolutionary selection in humans and viruses, creation of new collaborative models for combatting emerging diseases across disciplinary and national borders, and leadership of global efforts to increase data sharing in pandemics including Ebola and Lassa Fever.
Read more about Sabeti's work»

Bruno Klaholz (2016)
For his work in Structural Biology (by X-ray diffraction and cryo-electron microscopy methods) on the regulation of gene expression at both the transcriptional level (structures of the nuclear receptors to retinoic acid and vitamin D) and the protein translation level (initiation and termination complexes, and the structure of the human ribosome).

Hopi Hoekstra (2015)
For her work probing the molecular basis of how adaptation to novel selective pressures establishes and sustains diversity during evolution. Her tour-­‐de-­‐force transdisciplinary studies have illuminated a fundamental mechanism by which complex behaviors can evolve through multiple genetic changes each affecting distinct behavioral modules.
Read more about Hoekstra's work»
Watch 2015 Lounsbery Lecture at Smith College "Digging for genes that affect mammalian behaivor"» 

Frédéric Saudou (2014)
For his major contributions to the understanding of molecular and cellular mechanisms causing Huntington’s disease.  His findings represent a seminal discovery in the understanding of Huntington’s disease and an important step towards a future therapeutic strategy.

Karl Deisseroth (2013)
For pioneering the technology called optogenetics in which insertion of a single bacterial protein into a neuron allows exquisite control of the neuron with light.

Olivier Pourquié (2012)
For his work in embryonic patterning in vertebrates and particularly in the genetic and developmental mechanisms that control segmentation.

Bonnie L. Bassler (2011)
For her pioneering discoveries of the universal use of chemical communication among bacteria and the elucidation of structural and regulatory mechanisms controlling bacterial assemblies.

Gérard Karsenty (2010)
For his work on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the formation and the remodeling of bone.

Cornelia I. Bargmann (2009)
For her extraordinarily inventive and successful use of molecular and classical genetics to probe the individual nerve cell basis of behavior in C. elegans.

Jean-Laurent Casanova (2008)
For his contributions to the understanding the genetic basis of the predisposition to viral and bacterial diseases of childhood, which have important clinical implications for the diagnostic and management of infectious diseases.

Xiaodong Wang (2007)
For his pioneering biochemical studies on apoptosis, which have elucidated a molecular pathway leading into and out of the mitochondrion and to the nucleus.

Catherine Dulac (2006)
For her major contributions in the perception and behavioral translation of pheromones in mammals.

John Kuriyan (2005)
For his critical role in revealing the structural mechanisms underlying processivity in DNA replication and the regulation of tyrosine kinases and their interacting target proteins.

Brigitte Kieffer (2004)
For her pioneering work on the molecular neurobiology of opioid-controlled behaviors, the results of which have very important implications for the treatment of pain, drug abuse, and emotional disorders.

Carol W. Greider (2003)
For her pioneering biochemical and genetic studies of telomerase, the enzyme that maintains the ends of chromosomes in eukaryotic cells.

Denis Le Bihan (2002)
For his work on the invention and development of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging of brain diffusion and perfusion. The method he developed permits in vivo mapping of nerve fiber bundles and has multiple applications in both medical pathology and cognitive science fields.

Elaine Fuchs (2001)
For her fundamental insights into structure and function of cytoskeletal proteins and the relation of these proteins to human genetic diseases.

Miroslav Radman (2000)
For his contribution to the discovery of the molecular mechanisms implicated in the replication and repair of DNA, in particular, the discovery of a key enzyme of the DNA repair mechanism.

Elliot M. Meyerowitz (1999)
For his pioneering contributions to the molecular genetics of plant architecture, which have practical implications for agriculture.

Pascale Cossart (1998)
For her fundamental discoveries in microbiology dealing with mechanisms of bacterial entry and intracellular host motility.

James E. Rothman (1997)
For his dissection of the biochemical mechanisms by which proteins are transferred from one cellular compartment to another and to the outside world. These mechanisms are important in neurotransmission, tissue biogenesis, and hormonal secretion.

Daniel Louvard and Jacques Pouysségur (1996)
For their contributions to the study of the regulation of cell division and differentiation.

Douglas A. Melton (1995)
For showing how cells and tissues differentiate during vertebrate development through studies on localized mRNAs in eggs and the genes that induce mesoderm and neural tissue.

Jean Louis Mandel (1994)
For his work in human genetics and in particular for his discovery of the mutation of fragile X. This new type of mutation has now been found at the origin of the diseases.

Stanley B. Prusiner and Bert Vogelstein (1993)
For their distinct and exciting discoveries about the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and malignant diseases. This award is given as a celebration of the power of modern molecular medicine.

Philippe Ascher and Henri Korn (1992)
For their discoveries of the mechanisms of synaptic transmission. Philippe Asher furthered knowledge regarding the properties of glutamate receptors which play an important role in trials, and Henri Korn brought to light the elementary liberation of neurotransmitter in quanta form in the central nervous system of vertebrates.

Marc W. Kirschner (1991)
For elucidating key steps in the cell cycle, chromosome movement, cell cycle timing, nucleus breakdown and reformation, and microtubule control of cell polarity and mitosis.

Harold Weintraub (1991)
For elucidating a molecular mechanism by which a single regulatory gene can lead to a program of cell differentiation.

Jean Rosa (1990)
For his contributions, which have opened a new road in the control of oxygen transport in the blood and the treatment of the first worldwide genetic plague, drepanocytosis.

Richard Axel (1989)
For his discoveries elucidating gene structure in animal cells.

François Cuzin (1988)
For his original contributions in the elucidation of the mechanisms involved in malignant cell transformation, in particular, demonstration of the necessary contribution of two oncogenes.

Alfred G. Gilman and Martin Rodbell (1987)
For their discoveries regarding the proteins and mechanisms that mediate cellular responses to the binding of ligands to cell surface receptors.

André Capron and Jacques Glowinski (1986)
For their fundamental work, which has contributed to the treatment of parasitic and neurological diseases.

Martin Gellert and Thomas Maniatis (1985)
For their seminal contributions to our understanding of the structure and function of DNA, which were essential and fundamental to the development of recombinant DNA techniques.

Maxime Schwartz (1984)
For his genetic and biochemical analysis of the maltose system of E.Coli, which paved the way for the solution of a series of fundamental problems in molecular biology.

Günter Blobel (1983)
For his work in uncovering the molecular interactions that control the traffic of newly synthesized proteins in eukaryotic cells, for his incisive experiments, and for the beauty of the findings by which he established these interactions.

Pierre Chambon and Jean Pierre Changeux (1982)
For their work on fundamental structures of genetic material and of the nervous system.

Philip Leder (1981)
For his series of notable contributions in molecular genetics, which help to explain the means by which genetic information is organized and used to direct the synthesis of specific cell products.

François Morel (1980)
For his work on the physiology of the kidney.

Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein (1979)
For their work in cholesterol biosynthesis.


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