Effectively combating infectious diseases: Antonio Lanzavecchia receives Ernst Jung Medal for Medicine in Gold 2021 for his groundbreaking discoveries in immunology


Hamburg, 20 May 2021. Prof. Antonio Lanzavecchia, MD is one of the most influential and most cited immunologists in Europe and worldwide. During his scientific career he has worked on a wide range of core topics on innate and acquired immunity. For his outstanding research work, he will now receive the Ernst Jung Medal for Medicine in Gold 2021, an award presented annually by the Hamburg Jung Foundation for Science and Research to top researchers whose life’s work has made and continues to make a significant contribution to medical progress.

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Viruses, bacteria, and fungi remain a major threat to human health. Antonio Lanzavecchia has significantly contributed to our current understanding of how our immune system protects us us from pathogens and how to better use these defence mechanisms. The 69-year-old immunologist is emeritus professor at ETH Zurich and at USI Lugano and senior research fellow and scientific founder of Humabs Biomed, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company Vir Biotechnology. He is currently continuing his academic research at the National Institute of Molecular Genetics, INGM in Milano. During his career, he has investigated the cells of the adaptive immune system that maintain an immunological memory and confer life-long protection against pathogens or vaccines previously encountered. Over the last decade, Lanzavecchia has continued to achieve milestones in the field of antibody specificity and the generation of neutralising antibodies against a broad spectrum of common as well as rare infections such as influenza, SARS, dengue, ebola, malaria and HIV. These antibodies are developed for prophylaxis and therapy of infectious diseases and are used as tools for the development of vaccines.

Ernst Jung Medal for Medicine in Gold honours Lanzavecchia’s considerable contribution to the current state of knowledge in immunology

With the Ernst Jung Medal for Medicine in Gold, Antonio Lanzavecchia receives 30,000 euros, which he can award as a scholarship to a young scientist of his choice. “The award of the Ernst Jung Medal is a great honour for me. And it is wonderful that a prize that recognises my professional achievements goes hand in hand with a fellowship for a young researcher. This creates a special link between generations of scientists”, Lanzavecchia emphasizes. The Jung Foundation has been committed to the progress of human medicine for over 40 years. With the Ernst Jung Medal and two other prizes, it supports science with more than half a million euros annually.