Breaking News
May 3, 2019 - Vaping and Smoking May Signal Greater Motivation to Quit
May 3, 2019 - Dementia looks different in brains of Hispanics
May 3, 2019 - Short-Staffed Nursing Homes See Drop In Medicare Ratings
May 3, 2019 - Study of teens with eating disorders explores how substance users differ from non-substance users
May 3, 2019 - Scientists develop new video game that may help in the study of Alzheimer’s
May 3, 2019 - Arc Bio introduces Galileo Pathogen Solution product line at ASM Clinical Virology Symposium
May 3, 2019 - Cornell University study uncovers relationship between starch digestion gene and gut bacteria
May 3, 2019 - How to Safely Use Glucose Meters and Test Strips for Diabetes
May 3, 2019 - Anti-inflammatory drugs ineffective for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
May 3, 2019 - Study tracks Pennsylvania’s oil and gas waste-disposal practices
May 3, 2019 - Creating a better radiation diagnostic test for astronauts
May 3, 2019 - Vegans are often deficient in these four nutrients
May 3, 2019 - PPDC announces seed grants to develop medical devices for children
May 3, 2019 - Study maps out the frequency and impact of water polo head injuries
May 3, 2019 - Research on Reddit identifies risks associated with unproven treatments for opioid addiction
May 3, 2019 - Good smells may help ease tobacco cravings
May 3, 2019 - Medical financial hardship found to be very common among people in the United States
May 3, 2019 - Researchers develop multimodal system for personalized post-stroke rehabilitation
May 3, 2019 - Study shows significant mortality benefit with CABG over percutaneous coronary intervention
May 3, 2019 - Will gene-editing of human embryos ever be justifiable?
May 3, 2019 - FDA Approves Dengvaxia (dengue vaccine) for the Prevention of Dengue Disease in Endemic Regions
May 3, 2019 - Why Tonsillitis Keeps Coming Back
May 3, 2019 - Fighting the opioid epidemic with data
May 3, 2019 - Maggot sausages may soon be a reality
May 3, 2019 - Deletion of ATDC gene prevents development of pancreatic cancer in mice
May 2, 2019 - Targeted Therapy Promising for Rare Hematologic Cancer
May 2, 2019 - Alzheimer’s disease is a ‘double-prion disorder,’ study shows
May 2, 2019 - Reservoir bugs: How one bacterial menace makes its home in the human stomach
May 2, 2019 - Clinical, Admin Staff From Cardiology Get Sneak Peek at Epic
May 2, 2019 - Depression increases hospital use and mortality in children
May 2, 2019 - Vicon and NOC support CURE International to create first gait lab in Ethiopia
May 2, 2019 - Researchers use 3D printer to make paper organs
May 2, 2019 - Viral infection in utero associated with behavioral abnormalities in offspring
May 2, 2019 - U.S. Teen Opioid Deaths Soaring
May 2, 2019 - Opioid distribution data should be public
May 2, 2019 - In the Spotlight: “I’m learning every single day”
May 2, 2019 - 2019 Schaefer Scholars Announced
May 2, 2019 - Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Bye-Bye, ACA, And Hello ‘Medicare-For-All’?
May 2, 2019 - Study describes new viral molecular evasion mechanism used by cytomegalovirus
May 2, 2019 - SLU study suggests a more equitable way for Medicare reimbursement
May 2, 2019 - Scientists discover first gene involved in lower urinary tract obstruction
May 2, 2019 - Researchers identify 34 genes associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer
May 2, 2019 - Many low-income infants receive formula in the first few days of life, finds study
May 2, 2019 - Global study finds high success rate for hip and knee replacements
May 2, 2019 - Taking depression seriously: What is it?
May 2, 2019 - With Head Injuries Mounting, Will Cities Put Their Feet Down On E-Scooters?
May 2, 2019 - Scientists develop small fluorophores for tracking metabolites in living cells
May 2, 2019 - Study casts new light into how mothers’ and babies’ genes influence birth weight
May 2, 2019 - Researchers uncover new brain mechanisms regulating body weight
May 2, 2019 - Organ-on-chip systems offered to Asia-Pacific regions by Sydney’s AXT
May 2, 2019 - Adoption of new rules drops readmission penalties against safety net hospitals
May 2, 2019 - Kids and teens who consume zero-calorie sweetened beverages do not save calories
May 2, 2019 - Improved procedure for cancer-related erectile dysfunction
May 2, 2019 - Hormone may improve social behavior in autism
May 2, 2019 - Alzheimer’s disease may be caused by infectious proteins called prions
May 2, 2019 - Even Doctors Can’t Navigate Our ‘Broken Health Care System’
May 2, 2019 - Study looks at the impact on criminal persistence of head injuries
May 2, 2019 - Honey ‘as high in sugars as table sugar’
May 2, 2019 - Innovations to U.S. food system could help consumers in choosing healthy foods
May 2, 2019 - FDA Approves Mavyret (glecaprevir and pibrentasvir) as First Treatment for All Genotypes of Hepatitis C in Pediatric Patients
May 2, 2019 - Women underreport prevalence and intensity of their own snoring
May 2, 2019 - Concussion summit focuses on science behind brain injury
May 2, 2019 - Booker’s Argument For Environmental Justice Stays Within The Lines
May 2, 2019 - Cornell research explains increased metastatic cancer risk in diabetics
May 2, 2019 - Mount Sinai study provides fresh insights into cellular pathways that cause cancer
May 2, 2019 - Researchers to study link between prenatal pesticide exposures and childhood ADHD
May 2, 2019 - CoGEN Congress 2019: Speakers’ overviews
May 2, 2019 - A new strategy for managing diabetic macular edema in people with good vision
May 2, 2019 - Sagent Pharmaceuticals Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Ketorolac Tromethamine Injection, USP, 60mg/2mL (30mg per mL) Due to Lack of Sterility Assurance
May 2, 2019 - Screen time associated with behavioral problems in preschoolers
May 2, 2019 - Hormone reduces social impairment in kids with autism | News Center
May 2, 2019 - Researchers synthesize peroxidase-mimicking nanozyme with low cost and superior catalytic activity
May 2, 2019 - Study results of a potential drug to treat Type 2 diabetes in children announced
May 2, 2019 - Multigene test helps doctors to make effective treatment decisions for breast cancer patients
May 2, 2019 - UNC School of Medicine initiative providing unique care to dementia patients
May 2, 2019 - Nestlé Health Science and VHP join forces to launch innovative COPES program for cancer patients
May 2, 2019 - Study examines how our brain generates consciousness and loses it during anesthesia
May 2, 2019 - Transition Support Program May Aid Young Adults With Type 1 Diabetes
May 2, 2019 - Study shows how neutrophils exacerbate atherosclerosis by inducing smooth muscle-cell death
May 2, 2019 - Research reveals complexity of how we make decisions
Horwitz Prize Awarded for Work on Hormones

Horwitz Prize Awarded for Work on Hormones

Columbia University will award the 2018 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to three scientists:

Pierre Chambon, Institute of Advanced Study at the Strasbourg University and Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), Strasbourg, France

Ronald M. Evans, Salk Institute, La Jolla, Calif., and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Md.

Bert W. O’Malley, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

“for their discoveries of how steroid hormones regulate the behavior of distant cells.”

From left: Pierre Chambon, Ronald M. Evans, and Bert W. O’Malley

If you open up your medicine cabinet, it’s a safe bet that you’ll find a drug that targets a nuclear hormone receptor. Columbia University awards the 2018 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to Pierre Chambon, Ronald M. Evans, and Bert W. O’Malley for their research—spanning over 50 years—decoding how steroid hormones and nuclear receptors regulate cell function. This work has transformed our understanding of human physiology and disease.

Steroid hormones like cortisol and estrogens were first identified in the early 1900s. Researchers observed that these chemicals could travel long distances from one organ to another and that they influenced a wide variety of biological processes, including development, reproduction, growth, metabolism, and inflammation. But just how hormones worked remained a mystery for decades.

When molecular biology techniques became available in the 1960s, scientists could finally begin to more precisely probe the mechanism by which hormones act. Using these tools, O’Malley’s laboratory demonstrated that steroid hormones modify gene expression. This was a paradigm shift because until then many researchers thought that hormones worked by directly interacting with enzymes or manipulating the cell membrane. In a series of papers published between 1967 and 1972, O’Malley’s team showed that steroid hormones enter the cell and bind to nuclear receptors, a specialized protein that enters the nucleus and modifies gene activity. This tinkering of gene expression triggers biological changes in the cell and physiological changes in the body.

In the 1980s, scientists built on this work and isolated the genes that code for steroid hormone receptors. Teams led by Chambon and Evans were the first to discover and clone the genes for estrogen and cortisol receptors, respectively. Previously, researchers had predicted that the number of nuclear receptors would be small. But one of the big surprises that came from comparing the sequences of these nuclear receptors was that there were dozens of similar genes.

The laboratories of Chambon and Evans, in conjunction with others, proceeded to identify and isolate many of these related genes, mapping out a “superfamily” of 48 human nuclear receptors that collectively regulate a wide array of biological processes. Some of the genes they discovered had no hormone associated with them, and so were named “orphan receptors.” This work opened up a new field of biology and showed that a variety of molecules—not just steroid hormones, but thyroid hormones, bile acids, fatty acids, and others—could also bind to nuclear receptors to regulate the gene expression of cells over great distances in the body.

Following these seminal discoveries, subsequent work by all three scientists has continued to add important details to the molecule-by-molecule picture of how the 10 trillion cells in our body communicate with each other and stay in functional harmony. Unraveling these mysteries has given us deeper insight into the pathways that lead to a variety of human diseases. Today, drugs targeting nuclear receptors comprise 13 percent of all U.S. FDA-approved pharmaceuticals. These drugs treat everything from the most commonplace to the most serious conditions—including over-the-counter topical cortisone for skin inflammation, prescription rosiglitazone for type 2 diabetes, and tamoxifen, the most widely used cancer drug in the world.

Our ability to treat such a diverse array of diseases began with scientists who connected the dots among hormone, receptor, and gene.

A nuclear receptor complex binding to DNA. Credit: Protein Data Bank (2NLL)

Comments from Committee Chair 

Gerard Karsenty, MD, PhD, chair of the Horwitz Prize Committee and chair of the Department of Genetics & Development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons:

“Nuclear receptors are a Rosetta Stone for physiology; their discovery and characterization helped solved mysteries about many of our most fundamental biological processes that were first unearthed nearly a century ago. The work of these three scientists has profoundly transformed our understanding of the human body and how we treat a wide range of diseases.”

  

Awardee Biographies

Pierre Chambon, MD, is professor of molecular genetics at the Institute of Advanced Study of the University of Strasbourg and group leader at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), Strasbourg, France, emeritus professor at the Collège de France (Paris), and emeritus professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Strasbourg University. Dr. Chambon completed his MD at the University of Strasbourg in 1958. Dr. Chambon also won the Horwitz prize in 1999 for his work in understanding the transcription of genetic material into messenger RNA. 

Ronald M. Evans, PhD, is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif. Dr. Evans received his bachelor’s degree in 1959 and completed his PhD in microbiology in 1963, both at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Bert W. O’Malley, MD, is the T.C.Thompson Distinguished Leadership Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chancellor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. O’Malley received his bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Pittsburgh in 1959 and 1963, respectively.

 

Press Contact 

Lucky Tran, PhD, +1 212-305-3689, lucky.tran@columbia.edu

 

The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize

The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize was established under the will of the late S. Gross Horwitz through a bequest to Columbia University. It is named in honor of the donor’s mother, Louisa Gross Horwitz, who was the daughter of Dr. Samuel David Gross (1805–89), a prominent Philadelphia surgeon who served as president of the American Medical Association and wrote “Systems of Surgery.” Of the 95 Horwitz Prize winners to date, 43 have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes. Most recently, the 2013 Horwitz Prize winners, Edvard I. Moser, PhD, and May-Britt Moser, PhD, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway, shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with John Michael O’Keefe, PhD, of University College London. For a list of previous Horwitz Prize awardees, please click here.

The 2018 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Lectures will be held on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, followed by an awards ceremony.

For more information about the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize and the lectures, please visit http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/research/horwitz-prize.

 

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Columbia University Irving Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. The campus that Columbia University Medical Center shares with its hospital partner, NewYork-Presbyterian, is now called the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.  For more information, visit cumc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles