2021 Award

Award Ceremony: Friday 16 July 2021, virtual event

2022 Award

Nominations deadline: 31 August 2021
Application deadline: 30 September 2021
Award Ceremony: Friday 8 July 2022, EMBL ATC Klaus Tschira Auditorium, Heidelberg

How to apply

Applicants should complete and submit an application form together with:

  • A summary of your scientific research accomplishments covering work done during and/or after EMBL (no more than 300 words).
  • A detailed description of your innovation in the area of translational research in human health and/or technology innovation (maximum two A4 pages).
  • A CV.

Criteria for applicants:

  1. The award is open to junior and senior alumni alike who are registered members of the EMBL Alumni Association, irrespective of when they left EMBL.
  2. The work described in the application needs to have predominantly been done by the applicant, either as the “bench scientist” or as principal investigator.
  3. The work can entail results obtained during the applicant’s time at EMBL and/or thereafter.

Please note that joint applications cannot be considered.

If your application is unsuccessful in a given year, it can be resubmitted in subsequent years.

How to submit

All applications and nominations should be sent to alumni@embl.org

How to nominate

We also welcome nominations for the award. To nominate someone, simply send their name to the Alumni Relations team via the email address above. It is not necessary to submit any documentation. Nominees will then be contacted by the EMBL Alumni Relations Office regarding next steps.

List of winners

2021 winner: Kenneth Holmes
EMBL: Head of Outstation, Hamburg, 1974-1976
2021: Retired, Heidelberg (Former MPI Director)

"We needed a stronger x-ray source that could record a muscle contracting. I had read Julius Schwinger’s work on the theory of Synchrotron Radiation. DESY in Hamburg was setting up such an electron ring. Gerd Rosenbaum and I carried out an experiment at DESY using synchrotron radiation to get diffraction from a muscle specimen. This worked, and we were delighted when Sir John Kendrew and EMBL decided to support the project. DESY encouraged us to set up a bunker (bunker 2) for X-ray experiments on biological samples. Bunker 2 was the beginning of what would become the first EMBL Outstation. It is a great honour to have been presented with the Lennart Philipson award for the work that was carried out by Gerd Rosenbaum and myself 50 years ago in Hamburg."

Announcement of winner: April 2021

2020 winner: John van der Oost
EMBL: Postdoc, Saraste Group, Structural and Computational Biology, 1990-1992.
2020: Professor, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands

"While studying anti-virus defense strategies of bacteria, my team discovered that CRISPR-Cas and Argonaute systems target DNA, that their specificity can easily be adjusted, and that they can be functionally transplanted to other organisms. This is a beautiful example of the rapid translation of a bacterial genetics project to genome editing applications, ranging from biotechnology to human gene therapy. I feel privileged to have participated in this adventure. Moreover, thirty years after meeting Lennart Philipson at EMBL, it is a great honor to receive the award with his name."

Announcement of winner: March 2020

2019 winner: Patrick Baeuerle
EMBL: Predoc, Huttner Group, Cell Biology and Biophysics, 1986-1987.
2019: Executive Partner, MPM Capital, Cambridge MA, USA

“Our own T cells have a unique potential to cure cancer. I was fortunate to help develop a novel therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia that works by enabling a patient’s T lymphocytes to connect to its cancer cells and kill them in a unique fashion. This drug is called Blincyto and is on the market since 2015. It contributes to a recent revolution in cancer therapy referred to as immuno-oncology. I highly appreciate the role EMBL played in my career path ultimately making me a drug developer and serial entrepreneur.”

Announcement of winner: February 2019

2018 winner: Raffaele De Francesco
EMBL: Postdoc, Cortese Group, Genome Biology, 1988-1990.
2018: Head of Virology, Institute for Molecular Genetics, Milan, Italy.

“In the early ‘90s, the inability to propagate HCV in the laboratory was seen as a major obstacle to the identification of specific antivirals. Our discoveries of the NS3/4A protease and NS5B polymerase allowed the scientific community to start looking for inhibitors of these key viral enzymes long before we were able to work with the actual virus. The time I spent as a postdoc at EMBL, surrounded by great scientists working in a highly collaborative spirit, was very inspiring and taught me how to always use a multidisciplinary approach to address complex scientific problems.”

Announcement of winner: March 2018

2017 winner: Matthias Mann
EMBL: Group Leader, Instrumentation, 1992-1998.
2017: Director, Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Germany and
Program Director, the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, University of Copenhagen.

“Mass spectrometry has become an indispensable tool in molecular biology and this could not have happened without the fantastic environment at EMBL. My group greatly benefited from the unique concentration of skills, resources, personalities and ambition that characterised the place then and now. I am very happy that we succeeded in making first mass spectrometry and then proteomics a viable part of the tool kit for biologists and I am especially grateful for Lennart Philipson’s unwavering support of this initially exotic technology and of our group. ”

Announcement of winner: March 2017

2016 winner: Ernst Stelzer

EMBL: Group Leader, Cell Biology and Biophysics, 1983-2011.
2016: Professor in the Life Sciences Department (FB15, IZN) and the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) at Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

"Light sheet-based fluorescence microscopy is the result of more than 25 years of hard work. It is also an excellent story of a suitable environment that can apply results of research in physics. As a member of several Units, I saw the limits of “flat biology”, the challenges of maintaining a specimen’s three-dimensionality and the necessity for time-lapse imaging. But, I also had the resources to tackle challenges in a biological manner".

Announcement of winner: January 2016

2015 winner: Jacques Dubochet

EMBL: Group Leader, Structural and Computational Biology, 1978-1987.
2015: Retired, Former Professor at University of Lausanne, Morges, Switzerland.

"The basic work was done 30 years ago, at that time we had 35Å resolution. People said it was blobology. Then others made big progresses in data processing and instrumentation. Now, I am retired and they get 3.5Å atomic resolution and the method has become very important. For me, it's very rewarding, interesting and enjoyable."

Announcement of winner: December 2014
Poster - Awards Ceremony, 10 July 2015

About the Award

The Lennart Philipson Award (LPA) was created to honour EMBL’s second Director General, Lennart Philipson (1982-1993). The award has been given once per annum starting in 2015 by the EMBL Alumni Association. It is sponsored by EMBLEM Technology Transfer GmbH (EMBLEM), the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of EMBL.

The Award recognises outstanding and validated contributions in translational research in human health and/or technology innovation in the life sciences. This includes for example: deciphering human disease models; developing new diagnostic tools, methods or therapies; development of enabling technologies in life science (plasmids, strains, human disease-relevant animal-models, screening and production systems); instrumentation development; and bioinformatics.

The award is open to all EMBL alumni irrespective of leaving date. It consists of a gold-plated medal, a cash prize of €10,000 and the logistical costs of bringing the winner to EMBL Heidelberg to present a talk at the Award Ceremony on EMBL Lab Day.