Dr. Megan Sykes Receives 2018 Medawar Prize

The Medawar Prize, named after TTS co-founder Sir Peter Medawar, is recognized as the world's highest dedicated award for the most outstanding contributions in the field of transplantation. The Medawar Prize has been awarded at each of The Transplantation Society's biennial Congresses since 1990.

The award recognizes the outstanding investigators whose contributions have had a profound influence on the field of organ transplantation. The Medawar Prize is universally considered to be commensurate with the most outstanding world prizes for scientific achievement. Dr. Sykes says of the prize, "I am deeply honored by this award, which really celebrates the accomplishments of so many outstanding lab members and collaborators with whom I have had the privilege to work.  I am very excited to continue working toward our goals of achieving tolerance in all transplant recipients and having organs available for all who need them."

Dr. Sykes joined Columbia University in April, 2010 to establish the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology as its founding Director.  She is the Michael J. Friedlander Professor of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Surgical Sciences (in Surgery) at Columbia University, Director of Research for the CUMC  Transplant Initiative, and Director of Bone Marrow Transplantation Research in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at CUMC.  Prior to moving to Columbia, Dr. Sykes spent 20 years at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, where she was the Harold and Ellen Danser Professor of Surgery and Professor of Medicine (Immunology) and Associate Director of the Transplantation Biology Research Center. 

Dr. Sykes’ research career, during which she has published 420 papers and book chapters, has been in the areas of hematopoietic cell transplantation, achievement of graft-versus-leukemia effects without GVHD, organ allograft tolerance induction and xenotransplantation. Dr. Sykes has developed novel strategies for achieving graft-versus-tumor effects without graft-versus-host disease following hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT).  She developed an approach that has been evaluated in clinical trials of non-myeloablative haploidentical HCT whose safety and efficacy allowed trials of HCT for the induction of organ allograft tolerance, with the first intentional achievements of this outcome.  Dr. Sykes has dissected the tolerance mechanisms and pioneered minimal conditioning approaches for using HCT to achieve allograft and xenograft tolerance. Her work on xenogeneic thymic transplantation for tolerance induction has led, for the first time, to long-term kidney xenograft survival in non-human primates.

Dr. Sykes is Past President of the International Xenotransplantation Association and was Vice President of The Transplantation Society.  She has received numerous honors and awards, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, a member of the Association of American Physicians and a Fellow of the AAAS. Find more information on the history of the Medawar Prize, click here.