Takeda (TSE:4502/NYSE:TAK) and The New York Academy of Sciences today announced the winners of the 2024 Innovators in Science Award for their excellence in, and commitment to, innovative science that has significantly advanced the field of research in cancer immunology. Each winner receives an unrestricted prize of USD 200,000.
The 2024 Senior Scientist winner is Robert D. Schreiber, Ph.D., the Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Immunology and director of The Bursky Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Schreiber is an international leader in the fields of tumor immunology and cytokine biology. His early work was foundational in characterizing the role of cytokines in promoting immune responses to cancer. Dr. Schreiber pioneered the concept of “cancer immunoediting,” which describes how the immune system can induce, promote and prevent cancer. He also identified a novel subset of immune cells that interfere with cancer immunotherapy.
“I began researching the connection between the immune system and cancer more than 40 years ago. Along the way my research has benefitted from the contributions of more than 70 colleagues, technicians and trainees who have helped build on both our small discoveries and setbacks to make connections that are now transforming cancer research and treatment,” said Dr. Schreiber. “Scientific research is rewarding even when it takes decades to see results, which is why this award is so meaningful to me.”
The 2024 Early-Career Scientist winner is Elham Azizi, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and the Herbert and Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Cancer Data Research at Columbia University. Dr. Azizi is recognized for developing a suite of computational tools and models that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to characterize immune profiles in the tumor microenvironment. Her novel machine learning algorithms are applied to data from genomic and imaging technologies, guiding improved and personalized cancer therapies. Dr. Azizi’s work has helped identify immune components involved in anti-tumor responses and characterize immune states that promote tumor progression and response to immunotherapy. Her innovative models have identified, for the first time, determinants of immunotherapy response in leukemia.
“This award is a significant recognition of our efforts to push the boundaries of cancer immunology through innovations in statistical machine learning,” said Dr. Azizi. “The Innovators in Science Award motivates me, my team and the broader community to continue on the path of blending multiple fields to find creative cancer immunology solutions. This award will allow me and my team to forge new collaborations and explore high-risk and ambitious directions in our mission to help patients.”
“We are inspired by the groundbreaking work of Dr. Schreiber and Dr. Azizi to deepen our understanding of both the immune response to cancer and immunotherapies,” said Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D., president of research & development at Takeda. “There has been remarkable progress in treating cancer with immunotherapies, thanks to the advances of these researchers and others. Takeda proudly supports the Innovators in Science Award to honor researchers who share in our goal to improve lives through the relentless pursuit of science.”
“Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide. We are proud to join Takeda to champion pioneering medical researchers around the world who seek to harness the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer,” said Nicholas Dirks, president and chief executive officer of The New York Academy of Sciences. “The 2024 Innovators in Science Award winners are using AI, computational tools and groundbreaking methods to fight cancer and advance the field of cancer immunology. We congratulate the winners and eagerly await their future discoveries.”
The 2024 winners will be honored at the Innovators in Science Award ceremony and symposium in April 2024 in Boston.