Gordon honored with Frontiers of Knowledge Award

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Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been recognized with the Frontiers of Knowledge Award from the BBVA Foundation. He is being honored for outstanding contributions to biology and biomedicine for his lab’s pioneering role in founding the field of microbiome research.

BBVA is a global financial services company with headquarters in Bilbao, Spain. The BBVA Foundation’s Frontiers of Knowledge Awards were established in 2008 to “recognize and reward contributions of singular impact in science, art and the humanities, privileging achievements that significantly expand the frontiers of the known world, open up new fields, or emerge from the interaction of various disciplinary areas.”

Awards are given in eight categories which, according to the Foundation, are congruent with a “knowledge map of the 21st century.” The categories include Biology and Biomedicine; Basic Science; Humanities and Social Sciences; Ecology and Conservation Biology; Climate Change; Information and Communication Technologies; Economics, Finance and Management; and Music and Opera.

The jury that chose to honor Gordon’s work in the Biology and Biomedicine category noted that “Gordon and his team were the first to demonstrate the importance of the gut microbiome in regulating animal physiology. Following this fundamental discovery, it has been shown by many groups around the world that the gut microbiome plays a central role in health and in disease.”

Gordon, who is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine, will receive the award in June at a ceremony to be held in Spain.

“It is wonderful that the inspiring ideas, hard work and dedication of the exceptionally talented students, postdocs, staff and collaborators I have had the privilege of working with over the years are honored in this way,” Gordon said. “We are hopeful our current research — combining knowledge across many disciplines — in understanding the vital role played by gut microbial communities on the health and development of infants and children can have a real and lasting impact on improving the lives of people in diverse communities around the world.”

Past recipients of the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Biology and Biomedicine category include Nobel Laureates Robert Lefkowitz, MD, honored for his discoveries related to important proteins called G-protein coupled receptors, which serve as targets for many drug therapies; Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, for his contributions to understanding how adult cells can be reprogrammed to an earlier developmental state, creating pluripotent stem cells; and last year, James Allison, PhD, for laying the foundations for an entirely new approach for treating cancer based on check point inhibitors that unleash the ability of immune cells to destroy cancer cells. In addition, Jennifer Doudna, PhD, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD, received this award for their development of CRISPR gene editing technology.