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Charles Dinarello Awarded the 2020 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science

Distinguished professor recognized for the development of cytokine-targeting biological therapies for treatment of inflammatory diseases

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University of Colorado Distinguished Professor Charles Dinarello, MD, has today been named one of the winners of the 2020 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science “for the development of cytokine-targeting biological therapies for treatment of inflammatory diseases.”

Dr. Dinarello shares the prize with Dr. Marc Feldmann and with Dr. Tadamitsu Kishimoto.

“Development of biologic drugs, or biologics, has revolutionized the treatment of diseases,” the Tang Prize Foundation said in its announcement of the award. “This year, the Tang Prize Foundation recognizes the development of biologics targeting three proteins in our immune system called cytokines.”

Interleukin (IL-1) was the first cytokine to be identified and shown to be a central mediator of inflammation. Dr. Dinarello is considered one of the founding fathers of cytokines and his pioneering work set the foundation for establishing IL-1 as a potent mediator of fever and inflammatory diseases, which led to the development of therapeutics for this important cytokine.


Charles Dinarello, MD

IL-1 has profound multi-organ, multi-tissue, and multi-cellular impact on cell signaling. Dinarello discovered both IL-1a and IL-1b in 1974. He purified IL-1b in 1977 and his group was the first to isolate the gene for IL-1b in 1984. Since 1984, three drugs have been approved to reduce inflammation mediated by IL-1b. Most recently, neutralizing antibodies to IL-1b reduced cancer incidence and cancer deaths is a world-wide trial in over 10,000 patients. Reducing IL-1b as well as IL-1a has reduced the burden of several auto-inflammatory and autoimmune syndromes.

Dr. Dinarello is distinguished professor of medicine and immunology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and professor of experimental medicine at Radboud University in the Netherlands. He received his medical degree from Yale University, clinical training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and from 1971-77, he was at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. In 1998, Dinarello was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences and in 2010 he was made a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Dinarello has published over 1,000 original research articles, reviews, editorials, and book chapters on inflammatory cytokines, particularly on IL-1, the IL-1 family and related cytokines. He has trained over 50 investigators, many of whom are recognized experts in their fields. The Institute for Scientific Information listed Dinarello as the world's fourth most-cited scientist during the 20 years 1983-2002 and from 1996 to 2011, he was listed as one of 400 of the world’s most influential biomedical researchers.

Dr. Dinarello has received numerous international awards for his contributions to the field of cytokines and medicine, including

  • the Squibb Award (USA),

  • Ernst Jung Prize in Medicine (Germany),

  • Gold Medal of the Heilmeyer Society for Internal Medicine (Germany),

  • Chirone Prize (Italian National Academy of Medicine),

  • Carol Nachman Prize (Germany),

  • Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashdid al Maktoum Award (United Arab Emirates),

  • Beering Prize (USA),

  • Albany Prize in Medical Research (USA),

  • Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Sweden),

  • Paul Ehrlich Prize (Germany),

  • Bonfils-Stanton Prize (USA),

  • the Novartis Prize in Clinical Immunology (Switzerland), and

  • the Bonazinga Award (USA) and Drexel Prize in Immunology (USA).

    Dr. Dinarello also has received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Eicosanoid Foundation for his pioneering studies on the role of lipids in cytokine-mediated inflammation. Dr. Dinarello donates the monies from his awards and prizes to The Interleukin Foundation, a charitable foundation he established in 2009, which supports research on cytokines, particularly to young investigators.

    About the Tang Prize

    Established by Taiwanese entrepreneur Dr. Samuel Yin, the biannual Tang Prize consists of four categories, namely Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology and Rule of Law, with NT$ 40 million (approx. USD $1.3 million) in cash prize and a research grant of NT$ 10 million (approx. USD $0.33 million) allocated to each category. It aims to promote the interaction and cooperation between culture and technology so as to find a 21st century path to the sustainable development of the world. For more information, please visit the prize’s official website at https://www.tang-prize.org/en/first.php.

Guest contributor: CU School of Medicine