News Release

Douglas Wallace, Ph.D., wins 2017 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research

Johnson & Johnson launches campaign for champions of science

Grant and Award Announcement

Porter Novelli, NY

SAN DIEGO, June 20, 2017 -- Johnson & Johnson today named Douglas Wallace, Ph.D., of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, winner of the 2017 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, and launched a campaign for champions of science as part of the Dr. Paul Janssen Project -- a new year-long, multi-faceted program to recognize the impact of science on humanity. The full breadth of the program will be announced at the Dr. Paul Janssen Award ceremony in September.

Dr. Wallace won for his pioneering work in the field of mitochondrial genetics, and joins 14 other scientists who have received the Dr. Paul Janssen Award in the past 13 years, including two who went on to win the Nobel Prize.

Mitochondrial DNA is genetic material found in mitochondria - tiny power plants within cells -- and is passed down exclusively from mothers. Dr. Wallace's groundbreaking work has led to a treasure trove of insights into our genealogy, and has implications for understanding and treating a range of metabolic and degenerative diseases, cancer and aging.

"I am honored that such a distinguished committee has selected me to join the list of exceptional past winners of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award," said Dr. Wallace. "Of particular importance is that this Award focuses attention on the crucial role of mitochondrial DNA genetics and bioenergetics in the etiology of common metabolic and degenerative diseases. This perspective offers powerful new approaches for diagnosis and treatment of these ubiquitous maladies and thus for enhancing the health and well-being of all peoples." A video of Dr. Wallace's full acceptance comments can be viewed here.

"We are proud to honor the legacy of Dr. Paul by celebrating today's pioneers like Dr. Wallace," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. "We are expanding our Awards program to a year-round commitment to recognize the contributions of scientists all over the world to advancing human health."

"Dr. Wallace's insatiable curiosity, tenacity, and passion for humanity exemplifies the spirit we hope to fuel by expanding our commitment to champion science through the Dr. Paul Janssen Project," said Seema Kumar, Vice President, Innovation, Global Health and Science Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson. "This includes our longstanding support of programs like the Biotechnology Institute's BioGENEius Challenge, that inspire and encourage the next generation of innovators."

To celebrate dedicated researchers like Dr. Wallace, and to fuel the next generation of passionate innovators globally, the company will donate $5, up to $50,000, to the Biotechnology Institute every time someone shows support for science by using #ChampionsofScience on social media channels through September 30, 2017i.

Dr. Wallace is the founder and director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he holds the Michael and Charles Barnett Chair of Pediatric Mitochondrial Medicine and Metabolic Disease. He also is a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, and the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze detta dei XL (Italian National Academy of Science).

"Dr. Wallace was the first to understand the power that mitochondrial genetics could bring to the study of human disease," said David Julius, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, and Chair of the 2017 Dr. Paul Janssen Award selection committee. "It's great to recognize Dr. Wallace for his unique and groundbreaking research that has spanned nearly four decades."

The winners of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research are chosen by an independent selection committee of the world's most renowned scientists. The Award, which includes a $200,000 prize, will be presented to Dr. Wallace during ceremonies in the U.S. and Belgium in September.


About The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research

Dr. Paul Janssen was one of the 20th century's most gifted and passionate researchers. He helped save millions of lives through his contribution to the discovery and development of more than 80 medicines, four of which remain on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines. The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research was established by Johnson & Johnson in 2004 to honor the memory of Dr. Paul. Since its inception, the Award has recognized fifteen outstanding scientists, two of whom have gone on to win the Nobel Prize for the same work.

Previous Award winners include:

  • 2016 - Yoshinori Ohsumi, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate
  • 2015 - Bert Vogelstein, M.D.
  • 2014 - Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D. and Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D.
  • 2013 - David Julius, Ph.D.
  • 2012 - Victor Ambros, Ph.D., and Gary Ruvkun, Ph.D.
  • 2011 - Napoleone Ferrara, M.D.
  • 2010 - Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. and Erik De Clercq, M.D., Ph.D.,
  • 2009 - Axel Ullrich, Ph.D.
  • 2008 - Sir Ravinder Maini, FRCP, FMedSci, FRS and Marc Feldmann, FMedSci, FAA, FRS
  • 2006 - Craig Mello, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate

Learn more about the Champions of Science movement and The Dr. Paul Janssen Award at

About the Selection Committee

The Dr. Paul Janssen Award independent selection committee is composed of some of the world's leading scientists, including National Medal of Science winners, Nobel Laureates, members of the National Academy of Sciences and past winners of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award.

The 2017 Selection Committee includes:

David Julius, Ph.D. (chairman), Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco

Bruce Beutler, M.D., Regental Professor, Director, Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Hans Clevers, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of molecular genetics, Hubrecht Institute, Netherlands

Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., Professor of cell and molecular biology and of chemistry, University of California, Berkeley; Li Ka Shing Chancellor's Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Ph.D., Malcolm Gillis University Professor; Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professor; Director of Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health

Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D., President of Rockefeller University

Dame Carol Robinson, DBE, FRS, FmedSci, Chair of Doctor Lee's Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford; Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Thomas Südhof, M.D., Avram Goldstein Professor in the School of Medicine and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University

About Johnson & Johnson

Caring for the world, one person at a time, inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace research and science - bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our approximately 130,800 employees at more than 250 Johnson & Johnson operating companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world. For more information, visit

Between June 20, 2017 and September 30, 2017, Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc. will donate $5.00 to the Biotechnology Institute as part of the Champions of Science campaign for each eligible Facebook post, Tweet or other social media channel post using the "#ChampionsofScience" hashtag, with a minimum donation of $25,000 and a maximum donation of $50,000.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.