Prize for a Senior Bio-Medical Researcher – Prof. Michal Schwartz
Michal Schwartz is a full professor of Neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Schwartz is one of the world’s leading scientists in her field and was recently elected as president of the International Society of Neuroimmunology.
During her doctoral work at the Weizmann Institute in the field of chemical immunology, she began to take an interest in the possible similarity between the “plasticity” of the immune system and that of the brain. Eventually, she discovered that the immune system is a “life drug for the brain,” when she was initially exposed to one of the most difficult questions in brain research: why is there no regeneration of brain cells after injury. At the outset of her work, Michal Schwartz’s conclusions and proposals, which were contrary to the accepted approach at that time, were received with skepticism by the scientific community. During almost two decades, Schwartz focused on deciphering the mechanism for the maintenance and healing of the brain by the immune system, and the implications of this dialogue between the two systems – the brain and the immune system – for the aging of the brain and for degenerative brain diseases. This theory is currently accepted as one of the innovative theories that is helping to solve part of the mystery of the brain. In 2016, she reached the pinnacle of her research when she discovered that immunotherapy, which proposes treatment by the immune system, can lead to a revolutionary change for Alzheimer’s disease. Recently a start-up company was established to develop immunotherapy for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. This is the first time that a treatment approach based on activating the immune system will be tested, as opposed to treatment that is aimed directly at the brain. Prof. Schwartz has published more than 300 scientific articles in leading journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Medicine, Neuroscience, Nature Review, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. For her notable contributions, she has received numerous awards and titles, including the Elkon Prize, an Honorary Doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for scientific revolution and her contribution to the advancement of science, a Guest Honorary Doctorate at Manchester University, an honorary membership in the international Society for Immunotherapy and the Bloomberg Award for Excellence for her achievements in biomedicine.
Many of Prof. Schwartz’s students have completed doctorates under her mentorship as recipients of awards for excellence at the Weizmann Institute of Science for their scientific achievements, and they hold senior positions in academe and in industry in Israel and throughout the world.