Professor of Biology Robert A. Weinberg shares the 2004 Wolf Prize in Medicine for his groundbreaking discoveries in molecular oncology.
The $100,000 prize was awarded jointly to Weinberg, who is a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Roger Yonchien Tsien of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California at San Diego.
Weinberg was cited "for his discovery that cancer cells, including human tumor cells, carry somatically mutated genes--oncogenes that serve to drive their malignant proliferation."
According to the the Israel-based Wolf Foundation Council, "Weinberg is recognized as one of the major contributors to our understanding of the origins of cancer in human beings. Over the span of a 30-year research career, the Weinberg group has continually uncovered major conceptual and substantive findings that have led the field in new directions.
"By introducing the notion, now accepted in the field, that cancer is a multistep process characterized by mutations in several oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, he has opened the way to understanding the process of cancer in humans."
Wolf Prizes have been awarded since 1978 to outstanding scientists and artists "for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples, irrespective of nationality, race, color, religion, sex or political view."
The prizes are given every year in four out of five scientific fields, in rotation (agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine and physics), as well as an arts field. A total of 214 scientists and artists from 20 countries have been honored.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 28, 2004.