LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – Professor Jacques Fellay at one of EPFL’s life sciences laboratories has been awarded the prestigious 2012 Swiss National Latsis Prize for his work in determining that genetic profiles are a key to avoiding undesirable side effects in patients given HIV drug treatments.
The Swiss National Science Foundation, in announcing the award, says of Fellay that he is a:
“‘bridge builder’ and an advocate of translational research, a discipline that allows the results of basic research to be transferred to medical practice. Always on the borderline between laboratory and hospital, he is of the opinion that, in order to discover medically useful solutions, an exchange between the two worlds is needed.
“Jacques Fellay applies this thinking in his own research, which is conducted at the intersection of genomics and infectious diseases and for which he receives the National Latsis Prize 2012. The information stored in our genes can be of great value for developing new treatments.”
The prize, which carries an award of CHF100,000, is given to researchers under age 40. Fellay’s work included research into hepatitis C at Duke University in the US, where he discovered that “the genetic make-up of the patient played a significant role in the success of antiviral treatments, which are only effective in 50 percent of the cases” His discovery had a significant impact on how doctors prescirbe drug treatments today.
The SNSF notes that “Since 2011, as the holder of an SNSF professorship and head of his own lab at the Faculty of Life Sciences at EPF Lausanne, Jacques Fellay has kept on searching for features of the human genome that make it possible to counter viral diseases. Together with his team, he is studying mutations that occur in HIV when fought by the immune system and investigating the genetic variations of infected persons that might be the cause of this.”