‘Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research’ to be Awarded Jointly to Elea

“The Milstein Award Represents the Apex of Achievement in Interferon Research.”

Leonidas Plantanias, M.D., Ph.D.
President, ISICR

BETHESDA, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research (ISICR) announced today that Eleanor Fish, Ph.D., and Sergei Kotenko, Ph.D., will share the 2010 Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research (“The Milstein Award”). The 22nd “Milstein Award” ceremony will be held at the 2010 annual meeting of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research (ISICR) on Sunday, October 3, at the Hyatt Regency, Chicago. The Milstein Award recognizes achievements by biomedical research scientists who have made outstanding contributions to interferon and cytokine research, either in a basic or applied field.

Interferons and cytokines are involved in all biological processes and play a critical role in the development and progression of many diseases including cancer, viral diseases, and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. Indeed, interferon has been called “evolution’s first and perhaps most important invention for…survival...”1

This year’s Milstein Award laureates are Dr. Eleanor Fish and Dr. Sergei Kotenko.

  • Dr. Eleanor Fish is Senior Scientist and Head of the Division of Cellular & Molecular Biology at Toronto General Research Institute. Dr. Fish is being honored for her distinguished career characterized by sustained, high-quality science focused on the role of interferons in viral defense and clinical infections. As an example, she performed cutting-edge translational studies during the response to the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2003, and her work was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
  • Dr. Sergei Kotenko is Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). Dr. Kotenko is being honored for his seminal discovery and cloning of the type III interferons (IFN lambda1, 2, and 3 or IL-29, IL-28A and B) and their receptors; this work was published in Nature Immunology. The discovery of type III IFNs is making a major impact in the interferon field as it relates to highly pathogenic viruses, in particular influenza virus and hepatitis C virus.

“The Milstein family believes it is important to continue to recognize scientists who make exceptional contributions to basic and clinical research in interferons and other cytokines. Drs. Fish and Kotenko are scientists who exemplify the spirit of this award,” said Philip Milstein, philanthropist and sponsor of the annual ‘Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research’ (www.milstein-award.org).

“The Milstein Award represents the apex of achievement in interferon and cytokine research around the world,” said Leonidas Plantanias, M.D., Ph.D., President of ISICR and Professor of Medicine, Deputy Director, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University. “Indeed, there is a common theme that links this years’ Milstein Award laureates: both Dr. Fish and Dr. Kotenko have elevated the entire interferon and cytokine field through their seminal and groundbreaking research related to host defense against major pathogenic viral infections that have caused epidemics in the human population. They are, no doubt, deserving of the prestigious Milstein Award.”

“The worldwide interferon and cytokine research community is extremely grateful for the ongoing and magnanimous support of the Milstein family,” added Sidney Pestka, M.D., a 2001 Milstein laureate and Chairman and Professor of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology, and Immunology at the UMDNJ. Dr. Pestka was the first to develop a genetically engineered biotherapeutic, the alpha interferon-based drug Roferon A, in 1986 for treatment of hairy cell leukemia.

The annual award is named after Seymour and Vivian Milstein. The Milstein family—Vivian and the late Seymour, son Philip and daughter Connie—are well-known philanthropists in the United States and abroad. For over 50 years they have provided essential support for institutions and organizations at a time when funds from government agencies were drying up. Among the research- and healthcare-focused institutions they have championed are the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center; Columbia University and the University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons; Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center; the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services; and CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy).


The International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research (ISICR), based in Bethesda, Md., is a non-profit organization devoted to interferon, cytokine and chemokine research in the fields of cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and pre-clinical and clinical drug development. The ISICR provides a forum for sharing knowledge and encourages investigations that will lead to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that impact humanity. ISICR members’ research has led to significant breakthroughs in understanding and treating cancer, inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, viral diseases such as hepatitis and influenza, and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and lupus.

1 J. E. Darnell Jr., Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY (Interferon: The 50th Anniversary, 2007)


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