• Press Release

Jean-Laurent Casanova is Recipient of 2023 Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research

Annual award, created in honor of esteemed scientist, recognizes distinguished biomedical researchers for translational scientific research

  • New York, NY
  • (October 31, 2023)

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will award its 2023 Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research to Jean-Laurent Casanova, MD, PhD, for revolutionizing our understanding of human infectious diseases through the discovery of genetic and immunological determinants that underpin both rare and common infectious illnesses.

The prize honors medical pioneers in the tradition of Maria I. New, MD, a world-renowned researcher in pediatric genetic disorders with a special focus on endocrinology over her six-decade career. Dr. Casanova will receive a prize of $20,000 and will present the Maria I. New Distinguished Lecture during a ceremony to be held in at Icahn Mount Sinai in New York City on November 21, 2023.

Dr. Casanova is the Levy Family Professor at The Rockefeller University, where he heads the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases, and has been appointed as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He also heads the Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases at the Imagine Institute in the Necker Hospital for Sick Children in Paris, which is affiliated with the INSERM and University Paris Cité.

Over the last three decades, Dr. Casanova has made seminal discoveries linking genetic and immunological variations to people’s ability to fend off infectious agents. His work showed that life-threatening infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and severe COVID-19, can result from common or rare single‐gene errors of immunity or autoimmune phenocopies. These paradigm-shifting contributions not only profoundly transformed our understanding of human immunity but also considerably improved patient care.

“Jean-Laurent Casanova’s work created a new infectious disease paradigm in revolutionizing our understanding of human infectious diseases at the interface of genetics and immunology,” says Mone Zaidi, MD, PhD, MACP, Director of Mount Sinai's Center for Translational Medicine and Pharmacology, and Mount Sinai Professor of Clinical Medicine at Icahn Mount Sinai, who chairs the international jury.  Dr. Zaidi, along with the international jury, Lisa M. Satlin, MD, and Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, play pivotal roles in the selection process for the Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research. “As the 2023 prize recipient, Jean-Laurent exemplifies a distinguished scientist whose achievements have led to enhanced diagnoses and new therapies for patients with infections, upholding the legacy of Dr. Maria New and her lifetime contributions.”

Dr. Satlin is the Herbert H. Lehman Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Jack and Lucy Clark Department of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Pediatrician-in-Chief of Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Nestler is the Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Director of The Friedman Brain Institute, Dean for Academic Affairs at Icahn Mount Sinai, and Chief Scientific Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System.

"The pandemic has underscored the significance of biomedical research. One key way to expedite medical progress is by honoring prominent biomedical researchers and conveying the impact of their research. They stand at the vanguard of medical advancements, addressing the most urgent health concerns and contributing to longer, healthier lives for countless individuals,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning author and economic historian Daniel Yergin, PhD, who, along with his wife, foreign policy expert Angela Stent, PhD, generously support the prize.

"We take immense pride in this award, established in tribute to the esteemed Dr. New, a luminary in pediatric endocrinology and a worldwide exemplar of integrating pioneering research with clinical impact. Jean-Laurent Casanova's enormously influential contributions epitomize the legacy of Maria New and the exceptional medical achievements that this award celebrates," says Dr. Yergin.

Since 1995, Dr. Casanova has identified more than 70 genes with single-gene mutations that make people susceptible to specific infectious diseases while maintaining resistance to others. His research combines gene discovery with detailed mechanistic, molecular, cellular, and clinical descriptions of these genetic disorders.

Decades of belief in near-perfect human immunity were challenged by Dr. Casanova's findings, revealing that inborn errors of immunity are more common than previously thought, playing a significant role in many infectious diseases.

His research uncovered surprising redundancy in human defense genes, where previously versatile molecules were found essential against a limited set of pathogens. These findings expanded our understanding beyond leukocytes as the sole "immune system," as inborn errors in molecules expressed in neurons or respiratory cells could lead to specific tissue infections.

"Hosting this biomedical research award at Icahn Mount Sinai is a privilege, especially in honor of one of our revered long-serving faculty members,” says Dr. Nestler.

"Through this annual prize, we celebrate the values embodied by Dr. New, whose groundbreaking research has impacted both laboratory and clinical settings for more than six decades. This award recognizes exceptional physician-scientists who have made or have the potential to make pivotal contributions to patient care," Dr. Nestler adds. "We're delighted to contribute to biomedical research through this award, and we extend our deep gratitude to Dan Yergin and Angela Stent for their crucial support.”

The prize winners are selected by an international jury of prominent science community members. It is administered by Mount Sinai’s Center for Translational Medicine and Pharmacology, in conjunction with the Departments of Pediatrics, Medicine, and Pharmacological Sciences, under the dedicated leadership of Dr. Zaidi.

The jury members are Nobel laureate Aaron Ciechanover, MD, DSc, Distinguished University Professor at The Rappaport Family Technion Integrated Cancer Center in Haifa, Israel; Nancy Andrews, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital; Huda Akil, PhD, Gardner C. Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neurosciences, Michigan Neuroscience Institute, University of Michigan; Bert W. O’Malley, MD, Tom Thompson Distinguished Service Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chancellor at Baylor College of Medicine; and Anna Wedell, MD, PhD, Professor of Medical Genetics in the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

"We deeply appreciate the acclaimed members of the international jury for dedicating their valuable time and effort to choose a recipient from a diverse and exceptional group of nominees," Dr. Zaidi says.

The Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research

The Maria I. New International Prize for Biomedical Research was created in honor of the esteemed career of Maria I. New, MD, one of the world’s foremost pediatricians and a devoted member of the Mount Sinai community. It will be awarded annually to distinguished biomedical researchers for lifetime scientific achievements that have led, or may lead to, new ways to prevent and treat human disease. The award is generously supported by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and economic historian Dr. Daniel Yergin and his wife, foreign policy expert Dr. Angela Stent.

The nomination cycle for the 2024 Prize begins on February 1, 2024 and closes on May 31, 2024. To learn more about the nomination process, contact Susan Babunovic at susan.babunovic@mssm.edu

Maria I. New, MD, Biography

Over the past half-century, Maria I. New, MD, has earned a reputation as one of the nation's leading pediatric endocrinologists. Her studies of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)—a deficiency in the adrenal system that causes gender ambiguity in females and precocious sexual development in males—have led to treatments to correct the disorder before the baby is born. Her groundbreaking identification of a new form of hypertension, “apparent mineralcorticoid excess,” has resulted in a new area of receptor biology.

Since joining the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City in 2004, Dr. New has continued her work as a Professor of Pediatrics and of Genetics and Genomic Sciences. She is also the Founding Director of Mount Sinai’s Adrenal Steroid Disorders Program.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, among several other prestigious academies, Dr. New has demonstrated a lifetime dedication to biomedical research and clinical care, and her training of a generation of pediatricians and endocrinologists continues to have a far-reaching impact on the lives of patients and the medical community at large.

About the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is internationally renowned for its outstanding research, educational, and clinical care programs. It is the sole academic partner for the eight- member hospitals* of the Mount Sinai Health System, one of the largest academic health systems in the United States, providing care to a large and diverse patient population.  

Ranked 14th nationwide in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and among the 99th percentile in research dollars per investigator according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Icahn Mount Sinai has a talented, productive, and successful faculty. More than 3,000 full-time scientists, educators, and clinicians work within and across 44 academic departments and 36 multidisciplinary institutes, a structure that facilitates tremendous collaboration and synergy. Our emphasis on translational research and therapeutics is evident in such diverse areas as genomics/big data, virology, neuroscience, cardiology, geriatrics, as well as gastrointestinal and liver diseases. 

Icahn Mount Sinai offers highly competitive MD, PhD, and Master’s degree programs, with current enrollment of approximately 1,300 students. It has the largest graduate medical education program in the country, with more than 2,000 clinical residents and fellows training throughout the Health System. In addition, more than 550 postdoctoral research fellows are in training within the Health System. 

A culture of innovation and discovery permeates every Icahn Mount Sinai program. Mount Sinai’s technology transfer office, one of the largest in the country, partners with faculty and trainees to pursue optimal commercialization of intellectual property to ensure that Mount Sinai discoveries and innovations translate into healthcare products and services that benefit the public.

Icahn Mount Sinai’s commitment to breakthrough science and clinical care is enhanced by academic affiliations that supplement and complement the School’s programs.

Through the Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP), the Health System facilitates the real-world application and commercialization of medical breakthroughs made at Mount Sinai. Additionally, MSIP develops research partnerships with industry leaders such as Merck & Co., AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and others.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is located in New York City on the border between the Upper East Side and East Harlem, and classroom teaching takes place on a campus facing Central Park. Icahn Mount Sinai’s location offers many opportunities to interact with and care for diverse communities. Learning extends well beyond the borders of our physical campus, to the eight hospitals of the Mount Sinai Health System, our academic affiliates, and globally.


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About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

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