A UT Southwestern researcher is one of the recipients of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize, which awards achievements in the fields of physics, life sciences, and mathematics.
UT Southwestern’s Zhijian “James” Chen, who also works for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was honored for his work in life sciences for discovering how DNA triggers immune and autoimmune responses from the interior of a cell. His research looks to improve the immune system’s defense against pathogens, malignant cells, and diseases such as lupus.
Chen will win $3 million, which is one of the most generous science prizes in the world. Chen is the George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science, director of the Inflammation Research Center, and a professor of molecular biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. His previous research has led to the discovery of pathways and proteins that improve immune and stress responses, improving the body’s response against viruses such as influenza and Ebola.
Chen is no stranger to the pages of D CEO Healthcare. His research led to him being named to the National Academy of Medicine in 2014, and he won the 2015 Merck Award honoring him for his work in biochemistry and molecular biology.
The Breakthrough Prize is sponsored by Google founder Sergey Brin, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with his wife Priscilla Chan among others. Previous winners choose winners from publicly nominated candidates.