Biochemist Sir Gregory Winter and Research Chemist Richard A. Lerner have jointly won the 2012 Asturias Scientific and Technical research award.
Winter is one of the pioneers of protein engineering, with most of the current therapeutic antibodies in use developed using his methods. Humira is a billion-euro a year blockbuster drug developed by his Cambridge Antibody Technology lab. It also made Lerner a tidy sum for his work in its development. Winter combines science with being a serial entrepreneur, setting up labs to later sell to drug giants at a handsome profit.
The American Lerner wrestled at school, but it is in wrestling with catalytic antibodies, proteins and peptides he has made his name. He has also made a breakthrough in converting antibodies to enzymes, previously considered impossible.
Like Winter, he has also kept his eye open for the main chance, but has sought to tie big pharma in with acadaemia, led America’s largest non-profit biomed reserch organisation, the Scripps Research Institute for a quarter of a a century, and currently is a member of its sister Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.