Francisco Sánchez-Madrid, Professor of Immunology at the UAM, Robert Koch Award 2023

The professor of Immunology at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) Francisco Sánchez Madrid, and the professor at Harvard University in Boston Timothy Springer, have been awarded the 2023 Robert Koch Prize for their important joint research in Immunology.

Both scientists have been the first to jointly demonstrate the relevance of cell adhesion molecules in the function of immune system cells. The key lies in the proteins that immune system cells use to interact with other cells. These proteins are what allow the body to protect itself during infections, eliminating, for example, cells infected by viruses.

In the words of Professor Andreas Radbruch, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Robert Koch Foundation, “the research by Tim Springer and Francisco Sanchez-Madrid will allow diseases caused by deviant immune reactions, such as autoimmune diseases, to be treated by blocking these adhesion molecules. These diseases include multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

Professor Francisco Sánchez-Madrid obtained his PhD from the Autonomous University of Madrid in 1980 with the thesis Acid proteins of the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae ribosome, characterization and comparison with those of other species., under the direction of Professor Juan Pedro García Ballesta. He subsequently worked in the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. It was during this stage that he, together with Professor Timothy Springer, identified the proteins that control leukocyte adhesion and activation. This discovery marked the beginning of the development of treatments against autoimmune diseases. Sánchez-Madrid is currently Professor of Immunology at the UAM, as well as Head of the Immunology Service at Hospital Universitario de la Princesa and Director of the Intercellular Communication in Inflammatory Response group at the National Center for Cardiovascular Researchers (CNIC).

The Robert Koch Prize is considered one of the most important scientific prizes in Germany, and is awarded annually by the Robert Koch Foundation and the German Ministry of Health. This non-profit Foundation, created in 1907 with headquarters in Berlin, aims to promote biomedical progress. It promotes basic scientific research in the field of infectious and immunological diseases, as well as unique projects to solve medical problems.

The award ceremony will take place on November 17 in Berlin. Together with professors Francisco Sánchez Madrid and Timothy Springer, the Robert Koch gold medal will also be awarded to professor Patrice Courvalin, one of the most renowned researchers in the world in the field of antibiotic resistance.

The Autonomous University of Madrid, commonly known as la Autónoma, is a Spanish public university located in Madrid, Spain. The university was founded in 1968 by royal decree. UAM is widely respected as one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. According to the QS World University Rankings 2022, UAM is ranked as the top university in Spain and has consistently ranked as #1 in Spain in the El Pais University rankings, published annually.

Among its notable alumni, which include every president that the Supreme Court of Spain and Constitutional Court of Spain has had, is the current King Felipe VI, who studied the Licenciatura en Derecho (Law) and is the president of UAM’s alumni society.

See also TOP universities of Spain

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