HMS Researcher Wins Albany Prize for Microbiome Research

Dennis Kasper shares $500,000 prize for discoveries of microbiome’s role in disease and health

Dennis Kasper in his lab

Dennis Kasper. Image: Rick Groleau

Dennis Kasper, professor of immunology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School and the HMS William Ellery Channing Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has been awarded the 2023 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research.

The award recognizes extraordinary and sustained contributions to improving health care while promoting innovative biomedical research. It is one of the largest awards in medicine and science in the United States.

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Kasper was recognized with co-recipients Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University and Jeffrey Gordon of the Washington University School of Medicine for research that has advanced the study and understanding of the microbiome, bacteria, and how they communicate in the body and their role in disease and health.

In particular, Kasper discovered that the gut microbiome is critical for the development and modulation of the immune system and was the first to explain the mechanisms for this interaction, which is vital to health.

His findings have implications for a range of immune-related disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

Kasper was nominated for the prize by Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In addition to revealing molecules that have potential to become disease treatments, Kasper “has provided a central understanding of the vast importance of the microbiome in the development and regulation of the immune system. His work provided mechanistic insights and pathways of exploration for others to investigate the immune and other organ systems,” Fauci wrote in his nomination letter.

Kasper, Bassler, and Gordon received their awards at a ceremony in Albany, New York, on Oct. 5. They will share the $500,000 prize.

Kasper was also awarded the 2024 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, Germany’s most prestigious medical award.

Adapted from Albany Medical Center press materials.