The inaugural Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Research has been awarded by The Vilcek Foundation to Joan Massagué, Chairman of the Sloan-Kettering Institute's Cancer Biology and Genetics Program. The prize is designed to honor foreign-born scientists who have made extraordinary contributions to biomedical research in the United States. The Vilcek Prize is accompanied by a $50,000 cash award. It was presented at a gala ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City on March 21, at which Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's President Harold Varmus gave the keynote address.
In conjunction with the prize, the foundation is launching an annual lecture series at New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Massagué, who was born in Barcelona, Spain, delivered the first Vilcek Foundation Prize lecture on March 16. His talk was entitled “Controlling Cell Behavior: From Cytostasis to Metastasis.”
Dr. Massagué is a leader in the fields of cancer metastasis and growth factors that regulate cell behavior. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and he holds an Alfred P. Sloan Chair at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Jan T. Vilcek, a professor and research scientist at the New York University School of Medicine, and his wife, Marica F. Vilcek, an art historian, established The Vilcek Foundation in 2000 to honor achievement in their respective fields and to demonstrate their appreciation for the opportunities they received when they came to the United States in the 1960s as refugees from former communist Czechoslovakia.