2016 – Dr. Vishva Dixit

Genentech, South San Francisco

Vishva Dixit grew up in Kenya and received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Nairobi before continuing his research at the Washington University School of Medicine and later the University of Michigan Medical School where he became Professor at the Department of Pathology. In 1997, he left university to continue his research as Director of the Department of Molecular Oncology at the biotechnology company Genentech. Today he holds the position as Vice President for Early Discovery Research at Genentech and Director of their Postdoctoral Program.


(fltr) GRC Director Matthias Neubert, Vishva Dixit, winner of the 2016 Gutenberg Research Award, University President Georg Krausch (photo/©: Simon Büttner, brikettfilm)

Dixit is famous for several path-breaking contributions to biomedical research, many of which are decorating the textbooks already. He is best-known for his research that laid the foundation on programmed cell death and inflammation. Apoptosis as one form of programmed cell death was still a mysterious process in the early 1990s, and the mechanisms driving this fundamentally important cellular process were completely unclear. Dr. Dixit and his lab identified the components of this cell death pathway and defined the mechanisms driving this fundamental cellular process. Furthermore, Dixit made seminal contributions to the study of inflammation and immunity by defining the components of inflammasome. He was able to explain how the bacterial signals are recognized by the host immune system. More recently, Dixit's lab deciphered how "ubiquitination", one of the most versatile modes of protein modification contributes to tumorigenesis, inflammation, autoimmunity and diabetes.

Vishva Dixit has been a pioneer and a distinguished and much acclaimed scholar in the biomedical field for several decades and his works have dramatically altered our understanding of the molecular events required for programmed cell death and inflammation. In addition to his contributions to progress in fundamental research in immunology, biochemistry molecular biology and other fields, his works have already paved a way for developing novel therapeutics in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune disorders.