2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Congratulations to our contributing authors James P. Allison, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, and Tasuku Honjo, of Kyoto University, who share the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.” Dr. Honjo was also a corresponding member of the Editorial Committee for the Annual Review of Immunology from 2005 to 2016.

We’ve made these articles freely available to celebrate this achievement:

Structure, Function, and Serology of the T-Cell Antigen Receptor Complex, J.P. Allison et al., 1987 Annual Review of Immunology
The Immunobiology of T Cells with Invariant gammadelta Antigen Receptors, J.P. Allison et al., 1991 Annual Review of Immunology
CTLA-4-Mediated Inhibition in Regulation of T Cell Responses: Mechanisms and Manipulation in Tumor Immunotherapy, J.P. Allison et al., 2001 Annual Review of Immunology
Immune Modulation in Cancers with Antibodies, J.P. Allison et al., 2014 Annual Review of Medicine
Immunoglobulin Genes, T. Honjo et al., 1983 Annual Review of Immunology
Origin of Immune Diversity: Genetic Variation and Selection, T. Honjo et al., 1985 Annual Review of Biochemistry
Molecular Mechanism of Class Switch Recombination: Linkage with Somatic Hypermutation, T. Honjo et al., 2002 Annual Review of Immunology

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Congratulations to Annual Reviews Authors on NAS Awards

Congratulations to the following Annual Reviews contributing authors for receiving these National Academy of Sciences awards:

Barbara Dosher, of the University of California, Irvine, won the Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences “for her groundbreaking work on human memory, attention, and learning.” She wrote for the 2017 Annual Review of Vision Science.

She shared the prize with Richard Shiffrin, of Indiana University, who was recognized “for pioneering contributions to the investigation of memory and attention.” He wrote for the 1992 Annual Review of Psychology.

Günter Wagner, of Yale University, won the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal “for his book  Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation, which makes fundamental contributions to our understanding of the evolution of complex organisms.” He wrote for the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics in 1989 and 1991.

Mark E. Hay, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, won the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal “for his research into algal science, with implications for the world’s imperiled coral reefs.” He wrote for the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics in 1988 and 2004, and the Annual Review of Marine Science in 2009.

James P. Allison, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Center, won the Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal “for important discoveries related to the body’s immune response to tumors.” He wrote for the Annual Review of Immunology in 1987, 1991, and 2001, and the Annual Review of Medicine in 2014.

Howard Y. Chang, of Stanford University, won the NAS Award in Molecular Biology “for the discovery of long noncoding RNAs and the invention of genomic technologies.” He wrote for the Annual Review of Biochemistry in 2009 and 2012.

Rodolphe Barrangou, of North Carolina State University, won the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences “for the discovery of the genetic mechanisms and proteins driving CRISPR-Cas systems.” He wrote for the Annual Review of Food Science in 2012, 2016, and 2017, and the Annual Review of Genetics in 2017.

Marlene R. Cohen, of the University of Pittsburgh, won the Troland Research Award “for her pioneering studies of how neurons in the brain process visual information.” She wrote for the Annual Review of Neuroscience in 2012 and 2018.

Etel Solingen, of the University of California, Irvine, won the William and Katherine Estes Award “for pathbreaking work on nuclear proliferation and reducing the risks of nuclear war.” She wrote for the Annual Review of Political Science in 2010.

Annual Review of Medicine, Volume 68

View the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Medicine, Volume 68.

Fehr’s article “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome” caught my eye with a section heading that sounded like it could be an absurdist art film title: “The Camel Connection.” It actually references a transmission vector for this relatively new respiratory problem. Since reading this article, I have learned a lot more about MERS from two different podcast discussions about possible vaccines and how to keep it from spreading through larger areas. Identifying the camels as vectors has also revealed some other interesting information:

Thus, many other animals found in the Arabian Peninsula, such as goats, horses, chickens, sheep, poultry, and camels, were tested for MERS-CoV seropositivity. Only dromedary camels were found to be positive for anti-MERS-CoV antibody. Dromedary camels are present throughout Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and camels at these sites were shown to be seropositive with rates as high as 80% in some populations (reviewed in 47). Surprisingly, serum samples from as far back as 1982 in Africa and 1992 in Saudi Arabia were positive for MERS-CoV antibodies. This suggests that MERS-CoV has infected camels for an extended period of time and raises the question of why MERS was not detected in patients in Saudi Arabia before 2012.

me68-ebola-treatment-unitsThis volume also includes two articles about Ebola—which is often mentioned as an example of a virus that has spread through a remarkably large area. The first article is an interesting look back at the recent outbreak in West Africa that we now know began in 2013. “Ebola: Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Lo et al. is a fantastic guide to the geography and timeline of the outbreak and identifies the various vectors of transmission. I particularly appreciated the discussion of the geopolitical response to the outbreak:

Following these events, Ebola suddenly seemed potentially dangerous far beyond West Africa, and the epidemic was discussed at the highest political levels internationally. Ebola was debated on the floor of the United Nations (UN), and the Security Council described it as a threat to peace and security. In September 2014, the UN Secretary General established the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) to scale up the response on the ground in the heavily affected countries, coordinating the delivery of logistic, technical, and financial support. This gesture not only conveyed the perceived gravity of the situation but also lack of confidence in WHO’s organizational capacity for emergency response to the crisis. Hitherto, the only disease to have received such high-level attention internationally was AIDS, which had a specific United Nations structure (UNAIDS) established for its response.

The second article about Ebola, “Toward an Effective Ebola Virus Vaccine” by Keshwara et al., looks forward at long-term control of the virus. I always thought of vaccines as a single type of preventative, and found myself particularly interested in reading about the various kinds of vaccines being worked on by various researchers—DNA vaccines, virus-like particles and nanoparticle vaccines, adenovirus-based vaccines, etc. The authors explain why researchers are testing so many vaccines:

From a public health perspective, it is beneficial to pursue diverse vaccine strategies to increase the likelihood of creating a successful vaccine against EBOV. In the context of prevention in endemic regions, it is not always logistically feasible to rely on recurrent vaccination. An ideal vaccine would elicit desired immunity and protection from a single, unadjuvanted shot with no serious adverse effects.

Sometimes an article title catches my ear a full year before I get to see the final version. This was the case with Mamtani & Morrow’s article in this volume, “Why Are There So Many Mastectomies in the United States?” Like so many others, I have a family history with cancer, and my interest is often peaked by articles about new treatments and therapies. In this case, the article looks at a disconnect between the known benefits and risks of this treatment and the number of related surgeries, and though this article doesn’t offer answers it does a great job of providing context for the questions:

Patients at high risk for multiple primary breast cancers, such as those discussed above, are considered medically appropriate candidates for bilateral mastectomy. However, an increasing number of average-risk women are choosing both unilateral mastectomy and CPM. Although high mastectomy rates were initially attributed to surgeons failing to offer BCT to patients, an increasing body of evidence indicates that patient choice is the major determinant of mastectomy rates.

The comment section is open, and I’d love to hear what articles you found interesting!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Runners-Up for Person of the Year: CRISPR Scientists

Time Magazine named U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump its 2016 Person of the Year, but amongst the runners-up are the scientists who identified the mechanisms and developed the technique of gene editing using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), as well as those who are attempting to find direct applications in human health.

The implications are significant for the treatment of diseases with genetic components. If gene sequences can be altered, they can also be corrected to eliminate the risk of illnesses such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s Disease. They can also be used in the treatment of certain cancers. The technique is all the more revolutionary because it is cheap, very accurate, and easy to use.

While many of the scientists involved in these discoveries co-signed a letter urging caution in the use of CRISPR, wary as they are of genome modifications that could be passed on to offspring, this new technology also offers a lot of hope for many diseases that have not yet found a cure.

Jennifer Doudna, of the University of California at Berkeley, along with Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute, developed a way to simplify this technology and apply it to all kinds of DNA. Feng Zhang, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, showed it was possible to use it on human DNA. Carl June, of the University of Pennsylvania, is now attempting to harness CRISPR to treat cancer.

Congratulations to all of them.

Browse Dr. Doudna’s articles for Annual Reviews:

2016 Lasker Awards

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Lasker awards.

1. Basic Medical Research Award:

William G. Kaelin, of Dana Farber-Harvard Cancer Center.

Gregg L. Semenza, of Johns Hopkins University.

They helped identify how all animals react to variations in oxygen. They share the award with Peter J. Ratcliffe, of Oxford University. Click on their names to read the articles they wrote for various Annual Reviews journals.

2. Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award:

Charles M. Rice, of Rockefeller University.

He shares the award with Ralf  F. W. Bartenschlager, of the University of Heidelberg, and Michael J. Sofia, of Arbutus Biopharma. Drs. Rice and Bartenschlager were able to find a way to make the Hepatitis C virus replicate in laboratory conditions, which allowed research to proceed. Dr. Sofia then developed a drug that made it possible to treat the disease.  Click on Dr. Rice’s name to browse the articles he wrote for various Annual Reviews journals.

3. Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science:

Bruce M. Alberts, of the University of California, San Francisco.

He was recognized for his work in molecular biology and his efforts toward science education. Click on his name to browse the articles he wrote for the Annual Review of Biochemistry.