We are excited to announce the winner of Sir Michael Stoker Award 2018 to be Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka, jointly of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Tokyo. This award is given each year to an outstanding virologist whose work is particularly admired by students, post-docs and research staff of the CVR, but unlike other awards, Principal Investigators do not vote.
Professor Kawaoka has contributed a tremendous body of work towards our understanding of epidemic influenza and Ebola viruses. His influenza work provided considerable insight into the molecular basis of pathogenesis and cross-species transmission, which in turn has had substantial impact on antivirals and vaccine development, as well as preparation for pandemics. Notably, he has generated and characterized viruses which are very similar to pandemic strains (e.g. 2009 H1N1 virus and the 1918 H5N1 Spanish flu). To investigate Ebola, he developed a reverse genetics system where the virus produced is lacking an essential replication gene. This system acts as a relatively safer alternative to unmodified infectious Ebola virus, thus facilitating research into all aspects of virus infection. Furthermore, the virus produced by the system is a strong candidate for a whole-virus vaccine.
As a part of this award, Professor Kawaoka will be visiting the CVR later this month. We are very much looking forward to it!