Dr. Jan Vilcek (L) receiving the Milstein Award Crystal from President Tadatsugu Taniguchi.
Dr. Jan Vilcek, Research Professor, Department of Microbiology & Professor Emeritus of Microbiology, Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine
Dr. Jan Vilcek originally demonstrated that interferons (IFNs) protect cells from infection with isolated viral RNA, proving that the site of interferon action is intracellular. He was the first to show that IFNα and IFNβ are encoded by distinct genes, a concept that caused a reevaluation of how the host responds to viral infection. Subsequently, he focused his research on another cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), where he made outstanding achievements and contributions in understanding the effects of TNFaon the host immune response. These studies led him to develop an antibody, now named Remicade/infliximab, that has improved the lives of thousands of individuals who suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune diseases. For this work, he has received numerous awards and honors, including the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation.