Welcome to the Novartis Prizes for Immunology Awards – the longest standing awards to recognize excellence in immunology-based research.

Since 1990, the Prizes have become a major feature of the triennial ICI. During this time, 41 exceptional scientists have been awarded prizes for their ground-breaking contributions to basic and clinical immunology in some of the most challenging areas of research – honouring trailblazing research that benefits mankind and inspires the immunology community to break new boundaries. The Prizes recognize scientific discoveries that have had a major impact on our understanding of immunological disease as well as clinical research that has led to the development of novel treatments that have transformed the clinical management of patients.

At our most recent awards ceremony the winners presented their fascinating research a large audience at the ICI in Melbourne, reaching immunology experts worldwide.

We would like to thank the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research who make this event possible, through their long-standing partnership with the ICI.

Hidde Ploegh
Jury chair, 2016 Novartis Prizes for Immunology Awards


One Novartis Prize is awarded for basic research and another for clinical research. Each is worth CHF 100,000 and may be shared between up to three individuals.

The prizes were established both to honour outstanding research in the most challenging areas of immunology-based science and to increase interactions between scientists in academia and industry. In addition, they reflect Novartis’ commitment to supporting research in immunology as a key area for progress in treating, or even curing, immunological diseases with a high unmet medical need.


Established in 1990, The Novartis Prizes for Immunology are awarded every three years.

In the 1970s, researchers at Sandoz (now called Novartis) discovered cyclosporine. This soon led to the successful introduction into clinical practice of the first treatment to help prevent organ rejection. This was a moment in the history of immunology that was truly transformative.

Driven by this major breakthrough, Sandoz went on to form the Sandoz Prizes for Immunology to recognize major advances in immunology and inspire others to break new ground. Novartis was created in 1996 through a merger between Sandoz and Ciba and since then the awards have been known as the Novartis Prizes for Immunology.

The Prizes underline Novartis’ long-standing commitment to innovative research and development in the fields of immunology, including transplantation, auto-immune diseases and oncology.

Chemical structure of cyclosporine


Since the awards first took place in 1990, they have been hosted at the triennial ICI. The award ceremony took place during the International Congress of Immunology in August 2016, in Melbourne, Australia. The congress was hosted at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) and attended by over 4,000 professionals from 120 countries. The next award ceremony will take place at the ICI 2019 in Beijing, China.


Prize winners are selected by an independent committee of seven world-class immunologists, two of them are former prize winners. New jury members are selected by the jury when a position becomes available. The jury for the 2016 Novartis Prizes for Immunology was as follows:

Hidde L. Ploegh, Ph.D.


Hidde Ploegh is a faculty member at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Ploegh has held positions at a number of institutions including the University of Cologne, the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. His recent work includes the use of a technique called “sortagging” which looks at the pathways through which viruses are able to avoid detection by the immune system.

Jan E. de Vries, Ph.D.

General Secretary

Jan de Vries serves as the CEO of AIMM Therapeutics. Prior to this, de Vries served as head of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Basel, Switzerland, where he led the early development of many drugs that are now on the market or in late-stage clinical development. De Vries has also held posts at the California-based DNAX Research Institute for Molecular Biological Research and the Schering–Plough Institute for Immunological Research in Lyon, France.

Anne O’Garra, Ph.D.

Jury Member

Anne O’Garra is currently a Group Leader and Associate Research Director at The Francis Crick Institute, London. After training at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Mill Hill, she led a research group at the DNAX Research Institute (now Merck) in California, and revealed molecular mechanisms for the induction and function of cytokines in the immune response, and the immunosuppressive functions of interleukin‐10 (IL‐10). After 15 years O’Garra returned to the UK in 2001, and formed the Division of Immunoregulation at NIMR, to interface research in immunology and infectious diseases, continuing her research on the immune response to infection, with major emphasis on tuberculosis in mouse models and human disease. O’Garra is a member of many Scientific Advisory Boards to research institutions worldwide, on the Scientific Advisory Board and Board of Directors for the Keystone Conferences, and an Editor of the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Diane Mathis, Ph.D.

Jury Member

Diane Mathis is a professor at the department of microbiology and immunology at Harvard Medical School, working in the fields of T cell differentiation and tolerance/autoimmunity. She presently serves on scientific advisory boards of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Genentech, Fidelity Biosciences, and MedImmune, as well as of several research institutes worldwide. She is also co-founder of biotech start-up, Tempero.

Tadamitsu Kishimoto, M.D., Ph.D.

Jury Member

Tadamitsu Kishimoto is a professor of Immunology, Immunology Frontier Research Center (iFrec), Osaka University. He has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of cytokine functions through a series of his studies on interleukin‐6 (IL-6), its receptor system and transcription factors. He demonstrated the involvement of IL-6 in the pathogenesis of Castleman’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis and prepared a monoclonal anti-IL-6 receptor antibody which is of great therapeutic value in these diseases.

Charles A. Dinarello, M.D.

Jury Member

Charles A. Dinarello is a professor of medicine and immunology at the division of infectious diseases, University of Colorado, Denver. He is also professor of experimental medicine at the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Dinarello is considered one of the founding fathers of cytokines, having purified and cloned interleukin-1. Current studies blocking IL-1 in humans support Dinarello and his co-workers’ pivotal contributions to cytokine biology and the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases.

Bernard Malissen, Ph.D.

Jury Member

Bernard Malissen is the director of the Center for Immunophenomics and research director of the Centre d'lmmunologie de Marseille-Luminy.
The work of Malissen focuses on T lymphocytes and his long-term work in this area formed the basis for the development of diagnostic tools allowing the tracking of T cells in various immunopathologies. Malissen also participates in several editorial boards such as Immunity, Journal of Experimental Medicine and EMBO Journal.