Jeffrey V. Ravetch, Theresa and Eugene M. Lang Professor and head of the Leonard Wagner Laboratory of Molecular Genetics and Immunology, has won the 2017 Ross Prize in Molecular Medicine. The award, given by The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and its journal Molecular Medicine, honors scientists who have made a significant impact on the understanding of human disease pathogenesis and the development of innovative treatments. Ravetch will receive a $50,000 honorarium and present a lecture at The New York Academy of Sciences on June 5.
Ravetch studies how a functioning immune system protects against invaders, and how a dysfunctional immune system attacks the body’s own tissues in autoimmune disease. He is widely known for his work on Fc receptors, proteins on the surface of immune cells that interact with antibodies. By binding to Fc receptors, antibodies are able to change immune cells’ protective activity. This interaction is critical to the immune systems’ ability to defend against toxins, bacteria, and viruses. Ravetch’s work on the Fc receptor pathway—an essential part of the immune response—has led to new approaches to treating autoimmune disease as well as cancer and infectious disease.
Recent work in the Ravetch lab has shed light on why some people are more vulnerable than others to developing life-threatening secondary infections from the dengue virus.
Ravetch received his Ph.D. in 1978 from Rockefeller and his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1979. In 1982, he joined the faculty of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and in 1984 also became a guest investigator in Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology. He was appointed professor at Rockefeller in 1996. Among his many honors are the 2007 Coley Award from the Cancer Research Institute; the Canada Gairdner International Award and the Sanofi–Institut Pasteur Award, both in 2012; and the 2015 Wolf Prize in Medicine. Ravetch is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.
The Feinstein Institute was established in 1995 as the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York. Now in its fifth year, the Ross Prize is awarded through the institute’s journal Molecular Medicine, which addresses disease pathogenesis at the cellular and molecular levels. The Ross Prize aims to cultivate promising careers in the fields of science and research.