On 10 January 2013, Jacques Fellay will receive the National Latsis Prize 2012 at the Rathaus in Berne. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is awarding the Prize to the SNSF-funded professor at EPF Lausanne in recognition of his work on the human genome and its defence mechanisms against viral diseases such as AIDS. The National Latsis Prize is awarded to researchers of up to 40 years of age and is one of the most prestigious prizes in Switzerland.
Jacques Fellay feels just as much at home in basic research as in medical practice. To the doctor cum researcher, it is self-evident that progress in medicine requires an exchange between these two spheres. His research focuses on the interface between genomics and infectious diseases and shows that the information stored in our genes can be used to treat viral diseases such as AIDS.
At the beginning of this millennium, HIV therapies still had serious, undesired side-effects. Due to their genetic make-up, some patients have a higher concentration of drugs in the blood than others. This increases the risk of a toxic reaction. Knowledge of their genetic profile now makes it easier to predict harmful effects and adjust the treatment accordingly. Jacques Fellay has also identified variants of three genes that enable their carriers to exercise better immune control over the disease - perhaps a decisive step towards the development of a vaccine.
Having studied medicine at the University of Lausanne and done research at Duke University in the USA, Jacques Fellay now runs his own lab as an SNSF-funded professor at the School of Life Sciences of EPF Lausanne. Here, he and his team are also investigating why some children suffering from seasonal flu only have fever for a few days while others need to be admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital.
The prize ceremony will be held on 10 January 2013 at the Rathaus, Rathausplatz 2 in Berne. There will amongst others be speeches by Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research; Prof. Martin Vetterli, President of the National Research Council of the SNSF and Andreas Rickenbacher, President of the Cantonal Council of the Canton of Bern.
Representatives of the media are invited to attend the prize ceremony.