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Crowe receives national award for COVID antibody research

Mar. 31, 2022, 9:37 AM

James Crowe Jr., MD

by Bill Snyder

James Crowe Jr., MD, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, and Michel Nussenzweig, MD, PhD, of The Rockefeller University, have been jointly awarded the 2022 Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine for “groundbreaking work” that enabled the use of human antibodies to treat COVID-19.

The announcement was made March 24 by Harrington Discovery Institute Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, which established the award in 2014 with the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI) to honor physician-scientists who have “moved science forward.”

Michel Nussenzweig, MD, PhD

Crowe and Nussenzweig will deliver The Harrington Prize Lecture April 8 during the joint meeting of ASCI, Association of American Physicians, and American Physician-Scientists Association in Chicago, and they will speak at the 2022 Harrington Scientific Symposium in May.

“I am grateful to Harrington Discovery Institute and the ASCI for recognizing the work of our team at Vanderbilt over the years to develop next-generation antibody medicines for infectious diseases,” said Crowe, the Ann Scott Professor and professor of Pediatrics and of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“I am glad that the profound benefits of antibody medicines are making it into the clinic to benefit our patients,” he said. “This prize reflects the notion that the use of antibodies is now one of the most powerful tools to emerge from research conducted during the pandemic.”

According to Harrington Discovery Institute, Crowe “advanced the discovery of human monoclonal antibodies for many of the most pathogenic viruses that cause human disease.”

The Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, co-led by associate center director Robert Carnahan, PhD, “has discovered thousands of human monoclonal antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19),” according to the announcement.

Two of the antibodies optimized and developed by AstraZeneca are now given in combination to prevent COVID-19 in high-risk patients.

The announcement indicated that Crowe’s “work on the genetic and structural basis of virus neutralization has also revealed important principles that are being exploited in new vaccine and antibody development.”

Nussenzweig was recognized for developing “robust and scalable methods for cloning antibodies from single human B cells” and for showing that “antibodies cloned directly from humans can be a safe and effective treatment against viral infections,” according to the announcement.

“The translational implications of Dr. Crowe’s and Dr. Nussenzweig’s work are quite profound,” Harrington Discovery Institute President Jonathan Stamler, MD, said in a statement. “Their antibody-based therapies have enabled the medical community to more effectively combat COVID and will spare untold human suffering.”

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