Robert Winchester Awarded Prestigious Crafoord Prize

Robert Winchester 2013 Crafoord Prize Winner

Robert Winchester, MD, receives the 2013 Crafoord Prize from the King of Sweden. Photo: Markus Marcetic.

[Updated June 19, 2013]

Robert J. Winchester, MD, an immunologist in the Department of Medicine's Division of Rheumatology, was awarded the 2013 Crafoord Prize in Polyarthritis by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Winchester shares the prize with Peter K. Gregersen, MD, a graduate of the College of Physicians & Surgeons and now an investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, and Lars Klareskog, MD, professor at Karolinska Institutet. The three have been recognized for discovering how rheumatoid arthritis arises from the interplay of genes and the environment.

Winchester, Gregersen, and Klareskog received their prize at a ceremony in May at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and share the SEK 4 million (approx. $615,000) prize amount.

Winchester: Why Certain Genes Are Risky

The knowledge acquired by the 2013 Crafoord laureates opens new possibilities for treatment and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. Working together in the 1980s, Winchester and Gregersen made the first breakthrough when they found an explanation for why certain genes increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The two scientists found that certain variants of HLA genes increase risk because the proteins they produce are more likely to attract the unwanted attention of the immune system.

In his Crafoord Prize Lecture, explains how these discoveries were made and what is now known about the genes that predispose certain people to rheumatoid arthritis.

(Videos courtesy of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)

About the Crafoord Prize

The Crafoord Prize was established in 1980 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (which also awards the Nobel Prizes in chemistry, physics, and economics) to recognize basic research in astronomy and mathematics, ecology, geosciences, and polyarthritis, disciplines not represented by the Nobel Prizes.

Winchester is Second Columbia Faculty to Receive Crafoord Prize

Wallace Broecker, a geochemist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia, was awarded the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences in 2006.  In its citation the Academy noted Broecker's "innovative and pioneering research on the operation of the global carbon cycle within the ocean-atmosphere- biosphere system, and its interaction with climate."

For more information, visit the Columbia University website.