UCI News

UCI professor wins Spain’s prestigious Princess of Asturias award for scientific research

Philip Felgner is one of seven honored for contributions to designing COVID-19 vaccines

June 24, 2021
UCI professor wins Spain’s prestigious Princess of Asturias award for scientific research
The award “gives me the opportunity to reward my team for their years of dedication and commitment,” says Philip Felgner, UCI professor in residence of physiology & biophysics and director of the campus’s Vaccine Research and Development Center. “I’m proud to be included with six other eminent recipients who’ve been working for decades preparing their science to be responsive to the COVID outbreak at this moment.” Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., June 24, 2021 — Philip Felgner, Ph.D., professor in residence of physiology & biophysics at the University of California, Irvine, is one of seven scholars worldwide to win Spain’s prestigious Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research in recognition of their contributions to designing COVID-19 vaccines.

“It is a great honor, and I am so happy the jury selected me for this distinguished award,” said Felgner, who directs UCI’s Vaccine Research and Development Center. “It gives me the opportunity to reward my team for their years of dedication and commitment. I’m proud to be included with six other eminent recipients who’ve been working for decades preparing their science to be responsive to the COVID outbreak at this moment.”

The panel also chose Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó; Dr. Drew Weissman, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; BioNTech CEO Uğur Şahin and Chief Medical Officer Özlem Türeci from Germany; Canadian stem cell biologist Derrick Rossi; and Sarah Gilbert, Saïd Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford.

The jury citation said that the seven are “leading figures in one of the most outstanding feats in the history of science. Their work constitutes a prime example of pure research for the protection of public health the world over. Both the development of novel messenger RNA technology and the production of adenovirus-based vaccines open a path of hope for their use against other diseases.”

The $60,000 (50,000 euros) award is one of eight Asturias prizes – in such categories as the arts, social sciences, literature and sports – bestowed each year by the Princess of Asturias Foundation, named for 15-year-old Spanish Crown Princess Leonor. The formal ceremony will be held Oct. 22 in Oviedo, Spain.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu. 

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

About UCI’s Brilliant Future campaign: Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The School of Medicine plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/uci-school-of-medicine.