The Novo Nordisk Prize and the Novozymes Prize, two of the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s most prestigious prizes were awarded at a prize celebration event in Bagsværd, Denmark on Friday.
The Prize is awarded annually and is of DKK 3 million. DKK 2.5 million is a funding amount for the awardee’s research, while DKK 0.5 million is a personal award.
The 2018 Novo Nordisk Prize was awarded to Professor Jørgen Kjems for his systematic, comprehensive, innovative and highly original international research on non-coding RNA and for the impact his research in this field has had on medical science.
“All the work that I have been doing has been dependent on a lot a people – there really has been a lot of collaborations. I feel that this prize is really being given to a big community of collaborative partners,” Kjems said in a film screened at the ceremony.
“To many RNA is just three letters, but to me it has been my whole life. I am very honored and happy to be here today,” he said later.
The 2018 Novozymes Prize was awarded to Gunnar von Heijne, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry, Stockholm University, for his scientific breakthroughs in studies of membrane proteins, in particular his pioneering work on developing methods that can predict signal peptides, and how these are cleaved from the protein, as well as predict the topology of membrane proteins.
“I was totally taken aback when I got the phone call. I am used to awarding prizes, not receiving them. This is a special experience for me and I am very grateful for it,” said Gunnar von Heijne who for many years has been Chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.
The evening concluded with a dinner for the guests, including several former prize recipients.