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Press Release

Takeda and The New York Academy of Sciences Announce 2024 Innovators in Science Award Winners

  • 2024 Award Celebrates Outstanding Research in Cancer Immunology
  • Winners Discovered Novel Connections Between the Immune System and Cancer
  • Recipients Each Receive Unrestricted USD 200,000 Awards

OSAKA, Japan, and CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, December 5, 2023 – Takeda (TSE:4502/NYSE:TAK) and The New York Academy of Sciences today announced the winners of the 2024 Innovators in Science Award for their excellence in, and commitment to, innovative science that has significantly advanced the field of research in cancer immunology. Each winner receives an unrestricted prize of USD 200,000.

The 2024 Senior Scientist winner is Robert D. Schreiber, Ph.D., the Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Immunology and director of The Bursky Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Schreiber is an international leader in the fields of tumor immunology and cytokine biology. His early work was foundational in characterizing the role of cytokines in promoting immune responses to cancer. Dr. Schreiber pioneered the concept of “cancer immunoediting,” which describes how the immune system can induce, promote and prevent cancer. He also identified a novel subset of immune cells that interfere with cancer immunotherapy.

“I began researching the connection between the immune system and cancer more than 40 years ago. Along the way my research has benefitted from the contributions of more than 70 colleagues, technicians and trainees who have helped build on both our small discoveries and setbacks to make connections that are now transforming cancer research and treatment,” said Dr. Schreiber. “Scientific research is rewarding even when it takes decades to see results, which is why this award is so meaningful to me.”

The 2024 Early-Career Scientist winner is Elham Azizi, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and the Herbert and Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Cancer Data Research at Columbia University. Dr. Azizi is recognized for developing a suite of computational tools and models that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to characterize immune profiles in the tumor microenvironment. Her novel machine learning algorithms are applied to data from genomic and imaging technologies, guiding improved and personalized cancer therapies. Dr. Azizi’s work has helped identify immune components involved in anti-tumor responses and characterize immune states that promote tumor progression and response to immunotherapy. Her innovative models have identified, for the first time, determinants of immunotherapy response in leukemia.

“This award is a significant recognition of our efforts to push the boundaries of cancer immunology through innovations in statistical machine learning,” said Dr. Azizi. “The Innovators in Science Award motivates me, my team and the broader community to continue on the path of blending multiple fields to find creative cancer immunology solutions. This award will allow me and my team to forge new collaborations and explore high-risk and ambitious directions in our mission to help patients.”

“We are inspired by the groundbreaking work of Dr. Schreiber and Dr. Azizi to deepen our understanding of both the immune response to cancer and immunotherapies,” said Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D., president of research & development at Takeda. “There has been remarkable progress in treating cancer with immunotherapies, thanks to the advances of these researchers and others. Takeda proudly supports the Innovators in Science Award to honor researchers who share in our goal to improve lives through the relentless pursuit of science.”

“Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide. We are proud to join Takeda to champion pioneering medical researchers around the world who seek to harness the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer,” said Nicholas Dirks, president and chief executive officer of The New York Academy of Sciences. “The 2024 Innovators in Science Award winners are using AI, computational tools and groundbreaking methods to fight cancer and advance the field of cancer immunology. We congratulate the winners and eagerly await their future discoveries.”

The 2024 winners will be honored at the Innovators in Science Award ceremony and symposium in April 2024 in Boston. For more information, visit TakedaInnovators.com.


About the Innovators in Science Award

Established in 2016, the Innovators in Science Award grants two unrestricted prizes of USD 200,000 each award cycle: one to an early-career scientist and the other to a well-established senior scientist who have distinguished themselves for the creative thinking and impact of their research. The Innovators in Science Award is a limited submission competition in which research universities, academic institutions, government, or non-profit institutions, or equivalent from around the globe with a well-established record of scientific excellence are invited to nominate their most promising early-career scientists and their most outstanding senior scientists. The therapeutic focus rotates each year. The 2024 focus is cancer immunology. Prize winners are determined by a panel of judges, independently selected by The New York Academy of Sciences, with expertise in these disciplines. The New York Academy of Sciences administers the Award in partnership with Takeda. For more information, visit TakedaInnovators.com.

About Takeda

Takeda is focused on creating better health for people and a brighter future for the world. We aim to discover and deliver life-transforming treatments in our core therapeutic and business areas, including gastrointestinal and inflammation, rare diseases, plasma-derived therapies, oncology, neuroscience and vaccines. Together with our partners, we aim to improve the patient experience and advance a new frontier of treatment options through our dynamic and diverse pipeline. As a leading values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Japan, we are guided by our commitment to patients, our people and the planet. Our employees in approximately 80 countries and regions are driven by our purpose and are grounded in the values that have defined us for more than two centuries. For more information, visit www.takeda.com.

Media Contacts:

The New York Academy of Sciences

Kamala Murthy
Kmurthy@nyas.org

Takeda

Japanese Media:
Yuko Yoneyama
yuko.yoneyama@takeda.com

U.S. and International Media:
Kerry Bryant
kerry.bryant@takeda.com


About the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science for the benefit of society. With more than 20,000 Members in 100 countries, the Academy advances scientific and technical knowledge, addresses global challenges with science-based solutions, and sponsors a wide variety of educational initiatives at all levels for STEM and STEM-related fields. The Academy hosts programs and publishes content in the life and physical sciences, the social sciences, nutrition, artificial intelligence, computer science, and sustainability. The Academy also provides professional and educational resources for researchers across all phases of their careers. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.

Media contact

media@nyas.org