The National Academy of Sciences will honor 15 individuals with awards in recognition of their extraordinary scientific achievements in a wide range of fields spanning the physical, biological, and medical sciences. Two of the fifteen are also members of the National Academy of Medicine:

Bert Vogelstein, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Ludwig Center, Lustgarten Laboratory, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will receive the 2020 Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal.

Vogelstein’s transformative work revealed the fundamental principles of the molecular basis for human cancer and set the stage for improving the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

Through his focus on colorectal cancers, Vogelstein set the modern paradigm for understanding human neoplastic development. His group’s novel experiments demonstrated that colorectal tumors represent clonal expansions of mutated cells. They also showed that many tumor types are characterized by mutations of the p53 gene, co-discovered the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene and showed that mutations of it initiates colorectal neoplasia, and conducted genome-wide sequencing of cancers that revealed many of the other most important genes that, when mutated, lead to cancer. The multistep cancer progression model he developed, popularly called the “Vogelgram,” is now taught around the world.

Now that most of the genetic changes responsible for human cancer have been identified, Vogelstein’s focus has turned toward the development of therapies and diagnostic methods for earlier cancer detection.

The Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal is awarded every two years for outstanding research in the medical sciences. The medal carries with it a $25,000 award, and an additional $50,000 for research. The Kovalenko Fund, gifted by Michael S. Kovalenko in 1949 to the National Academy of Science in memory of his wife, Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko, was specifically designed to recognize the achievements made to the medical sciences and, over the past 67 years, has honored many outstanding contributors.

Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Stanford University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will receive the 2020 John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science.

Bertozzi is widely recognized for her invention of bioorthogonal chemistry, a broadly applicable class of chemical reactions that has opened up new research into bioimaging, chemoproteomics, and in vivo drug delivery. Her innovative technologies have been extensively commercialized for both therapeutic and research applications.

Bertozzi’s ongoing research emphasizes studies of cell surface sugars important to human health and disease, a field that has been accelerated by biorthogonal labeling methods. Her research group studies the glycobiology underlying cancer, inflammatory disorders, and infectious diseases. Among her most recent accomplishments is the development of a method to detect tuberculosis.

The John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science is awarded every two years, to recognize noteworthy and distinguished accomplishments in any field of science within the National Academy of Science’s charter. The award is presented with a medal and a $25,000 prize. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company established the award to honor the memory of their Chief Engineer, Vice President, and general telecommunications innovator, John J. Carty. The Carty Award will be presented in 2020 in the physical sciences.

The winners will be honored in a ceremony on Sunday, April 26, during the National Academy of Sciences’ 157th annual meeting.

The other recipients of the NAS Awards can be found here.

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