This year’s National Latsis Prize has been awarded to a medical researcher whose work has demonstrated how genetics can influence the body’s reaction to viruses and their treatments.
Jacques Fellay heads a life sciences laboratory at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Through his research he has found that it is important to consider genetic differences when developing vaccines because people respond differently to the same treatments.
Fellay and his team are currently studying mutations that occur in HIV when fought by the immune system, as well as how genetic variations among infected people affect this.
He discovered three genes that give some patients better immune control over the disease. Fellay has also looked into hepatitis C and the common flu.
Worth SFr100,000 ($107,500), the National Latsis Prize is one of the most prestigious scientific awards in Switzerland. Each year, the National Science Foundation presents it on behalf of the Latsis Foundation to researchers aged 40 and under for their special contribution to science in Switzerland.
The prize will be awarded on January 10, 2013, at the Rathaus in Bern. The Latsis foundation was created by the Greek family of the same name in Geneva in 1975.
Previous winners include organic chemist Karl Gademann, science historian Marianne Sommer and climate specialist Thomas Stocker.
swissinfo.ch and agencies