Arthur L. Horwich, M.D., Sterling Professor of Genetics, professor of pediatrics, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is one of three recipients of the 2016 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, one of the most prestigious honors in medicine.
Horwich, F. Ulrich Hartl, M.D., of the Max Planck Institute, and Susan Lindquist, Ph.D., at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will share the $500,000 prize for their discoveries about the biology of protein folding.
Proteins must be folded into a proper three-dimensional structure to carry out their functions, which are crucial to all life. The scientists have shown that protein folding inside cells does not occur spontaneously as previously believed but depends upon molecular “assistants” in a process called “chaperone-mediated protein folding.”
“Protein folding is a concept considered revolutionary in modern biology, with important implications for the treatment or delay of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and other neurodegenerative conditions, as well as cancer and drug resistance,” says Vincent Verdile, M.D., the Lynne and Mark Groban, M.D. ’69, Distinguished Dean of Albany Medical College and chair of the Albany Prize National Selection Committee.
A Chicago native, Horwich received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University, and then came to Yale for his internship and residency in pediatrics. He served as a postdoctoral fellow first at Salk Institute in the Tumor Virology Laboratory and then in the genetics department at the School of Medicine, before joining the medical school faculty in 1984.
He has received numerous honors including the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2011 and the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine in 2012. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine).
Horwich has studied ALS for several years, focusing on aspects that include protein quality control mechanisms, in an effort to understand exactly what causes the motor failure and paralysis that are hallmarks of the disease.