VinFuture Prize Laureates named among Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2024

The 2023 VinFuture Special Prize Laureates, Professor Daniel Joshua Drucker (Canada), Professor Joel Francis Habener, and Associate Professor Svetlana Mojsov (USA), have been named to Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2024.

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This annual list recognizes the world’s most outstanding individuals in various fields, including artists, leaders, innovators, and pioneers. Professor Drucker, Habener, and Associate Professor Mojsov were honored by Time in the category of most influential pioneers.

The professors were recognized by Time magazine for their collaborative efforts over many years to research and develop effective weight loss drugs. According to Time, scientists first working on diabetes drugs, made a critical connection between insulin and incretins, part of a family of gut hormones known as glucagons, thus helping them to understand how to manage blood-sugar levels and weight.

At the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), Professor Jens Juul Holst (also a 2023 VinFuture Special Prize Laureate), noticed that after intestinal surgery, the hormone glucagon increased people’s insulin levels. At the same time, Professor Daniel Drucker (University of Toronto, Canada) and Professor Joel Habener (Massachusetts General Hospital, USA) discovered two forms of glucagon, including GLP-1, a form of which is now in Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Zepbound, according to Time.

Associate Professor Svetlana Mojsov (Rockefeller University, USA), a chemist, synthesized GLP-1 and developed antibodies against it for critical early studies. Professor Drucker’s experiments pinpointed the specific parts of GLP-1 responsible for affecting insulin levels.

As a result, according to Time, GLP-1-based medications are now approved in the U.S. to treat diabetes and obesity, and to reduce the risk of heart disease. And there’s more to come—researchers are studying other potential benefits of GLP-1 drugs, including lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, kidney, and liver diseases.

Previously, in December 2023, at the 2023 VinFuture Award Ceremony, Professor Daniel Joshua Drucker (Canada), Professor Joel Francis Habener (USA), Associate Professor Svetlana Mojsov (USA), and Professor Jens Juul Holst (Denmark) were awarded the VinFuture Special Prize for Innovators with Outstanding Achievements in Emerging Fields, worth USD 500,000, for their pioneering work on the discovery of the role of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This work has paved the way for widely used treatments for diabetes and obesity and has stimulated emerging applications for neurodegenerative diseases.

Their work has laid the foundation and opened new hope for the treatment of over 400 million people with type 2 diabetes, over 1 billion people with obesity, and over 3 million people with short bowel syndrome. In 2023, over 20 million doses of GLP-1 drugs were used worldwide with an impressive growth rate of 6.7%. Additionally, the exploration of the physiological mechanism of GLPs has propelled the research and development of new treatments for cardiovascular diseases and many neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases, all of which being among the leading causes of death globally.

Notably, Time’s recognition of Associate Professor Svetlana Mojsov further reinforces the vision and comprehensive evaluation criteria of the VinFuture Prize, as her pioneering role in developing this weight-loss drug has rarely been acknowledged in major international biomedical awards until being honored at the 2023 VinFuture Prize Award Ceremony.

The recognition of outstanding scientists with significant contributions to the world has demonstrated the stature and vision of the VinFuture Prize Council and Pre-Screening Committee. VinFuture is increasingly playing an important role in evaluating and promoting research in the field of global science and technology, contributing to raising Vietnam’s position in the world.

Reference: https://time.com/6964971/joel-habener-svetlana-mojsov-dan-drucker

Professor Joel Francis Habener (Harvard University, USA) is a pioneering scientist in the field of endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity. His research team was the first to discover two small molecules structurally similar to glucagon in the preproglucagon molecule in anglerfish in 1981, laying the foundation for later discoveries on the sequence and structure of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1).

Professor Daniel Joshua Drucker (Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, University of Toronto, Canada) is a leading scientist in the field of endocrinology and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) biology. Professor Drucker’s research on GLP-1 began during his time as a postdoctoral research fellow in Professor Joel Habener’s laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital, tasked with investigating the physiological role of GLP-1 and the cells producing it.

Associate Professor Svetlana Mojsov (Rockefeller University, USA) has made significant breakthroughs in identifying functional isoforms of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), leading to extensive research and development of GLP-1-based therapies.

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