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Prix Galien USA Welcomes Eighth Nobel Laureate to its Prestigious Award Committee

Prix Galien USA 2008 Announced for September 24, Nominations Now Being Accepted

NEW YORK, April 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert, Ph.D., the Carl M. Loeb University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and founder of Biogen, has joined fellow Nobel Laureates on the committee responsible for awarding the most coveted prize in biopharmaceutical research. Prix Galien USA 2008 ( will be held on Wednesday, September 24, 2008, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Gilbert will bring substantial expertise in molecular biology to the Prix Galien USA committee in the wake of the death of one of its founding members, Dr. Joshua Lederburg, in February 2008. In 1980, Gilbert won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry after developing a technology that greatly expedited DNA sequencing and helped open doors for today's techniques that allow the sequencing of entire genomes, including the human genome. Gilbert also co-founded several major biotech companies in addition to Biogen including Myriad Genetics, Memory Pharmaceuticals and Paratek Pharmaceuticals. He serves on the Board of Scientific Governors of The Scripps Research Institute and is a managing partner in BioVentures Investors.

"It is an honor to welcome Wally as the eighth Nobel Laureate to join the committee responsible for selecting those individuals and organizations that are leaders in excellence and innovation in the field of biomedical research and development," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Prix Galien committee chair, who is a New York University research professor of medicine and editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. "His experience, expertise and perspective greatly enrich what is already the most qualified group of people assembled for administering the Prix Galien USA."

The Prix Galien USA is awarded in two categories that offer broad implications for future biomedical research: 1) best pharmaceutical agent, and 2) best biotechnology product. All pharmaceutical and biological drugs or devices that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for first or new indications in the past five years (2003 - 2007) are eligible for nomination. At the discretion of the committee, a special Pro Bono Humanum Award also may be given to an individual, a company, an academic institution or a non-governmental agency that has helped to improve the human condition through the application of pharmaceutical science to problems of developing or underserved populations worldwide. Online nominations for the 2008 awards are being accepted at through June 30.

This year's Prix Galien USA will follow the success of the inaugural 2007 awards, which recognized Merck & Co., Inc. in the categories of best pharmaceutical agent (Januvia) and best biotechnology product (Gardasil); Pfizer, Inc. for best pharmaceutical agent (Chantix); and Abbott (Humira) for best biotechnology product. Dr. Roy Vagelos was honored with a Pro Bono Humanum Award for his historic decision to donate the drug Mectizan to more than 530 million people in 34 countries to treat and prevent river blindness.

According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, only 1 in 10,000 compounds identified in the laboratory eventually becomes an FDA-approved drug. Pharmaceuticals and the research involved in their creation have been responsible for virtually eradicating diseases like polio and smallpox, and extending and improving the lives of billions around the world.

The Prix Galien Award ( recognizes the technical, scientific and clinical research skills necessary to develop innovative medicines, and is considered the industry's highest accolade for pharmaceutical research and development -- equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Prix Galien was first established in 1970 by French pharmacist Roland Mehl and was inaugurated in the United States in September 2007. The Prix Galien USA awards committee now comprises 11 individuals including Nobel Laureates, founders of major biotech companies and editors of world-renowned biology journals.


Brandi Dobbins

(202) 248-5447

SOURCE Prix Galien Foundation
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