The Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research is presented annually. Each year, nominations for award recipients are accepted from the global research community.

The awardee(s) will be selected by a Selection Committee of six to eight distinguished and independent scientists. The deliberations of the Selection Committee will be confidential and independent of Johnson & Johnson or other outside influences.

The award is a citation and a prize of $200,000.


The Selection Committee will choose a scientist (or a group of scientists), in basic or clinical research, who:

  • Has made a significant contribution to research that has impacted, or has strong potential to impact, human health through the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease.
  • Exhibits the standards of innovation, insight, and leadership that Dr. Paul exemplified during his career.
  • Provides a living example that the study of science and technology can enable or has the potential to enable extended, healthy, productive life.
  • Displays a set of ethical values consistent with the Johnson & Johnson Credo and those values that guide the company.

The award can be given to a clinical or basic research scientist or group of scientists in academia, government, industry, private research institution, medical, or clinical practice. It will typically recognize an individual scientist but can be shared in circumstances in which the contributions of multiple nominees are viewed as being of similar importance. Self-nominations will not be considered.

Selection Committee


David Julius, Ph.D., is professor and chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Julius received his bachelor’s degree in life sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977 and his doctorate in biochemistry from University of California, Berkeley in 1984, where he worked with Randy Schekman and Jeremy Thorner to characterize mechanisms of peptide hormone processing and secretion in yeast. Julius joined Richard Axel’s group at Columbia University for his postdoctoral studies, where his interest turned to neuropharmacology and receptor function. He then joined the faculty at UC San Francisco in 1989, where he currently focuses his research on understanding the molecular basis of pain sensation. His work includes determining how capsaicin, the main pungent ingredient in “hot” chili peppers, elicits burning pain, and how menthol, the cooling agent in mint leaves, evokes an icy cool sensation. Using these and other natural products as pharmacological probes, Julius identified ion channels on sensory nerve fibers that are activated by heat, cold, and/or chemical irritants, providing molecular insight into mechanisms of thermo- and chemo-sensation. Julius has received many awards for his work including the 2013 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research and the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine in 2010. He is a member of the National Academies of Science and Medicine.


Bruce Beutler, M.D. is a Regental Professor and the Director of Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Beutler helped pioneer the field of innate immunity with contributions to our understanding of inflammation, cytokines, and the initial sensing of infection. He received his B.S. in biology from UC San Diego. He attended medical school at the University of Chicago and did his residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, followed by a postdoctoral appointment at the Rockefeller University. There he isolated mouse tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and discovered its important role as a mediator of endotoxic shock. He began his independent career at the Rockefeller University in 1985, continuing at UT Southwestern Medical Center in 1986. His work generating a fusion of TNF receptor's binding domain with the heavy chain of an immunoglobulin molecule led to the drug etanercept for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, and other forms of inflammation. In 1998 Beutler identified the mammalian endotoxin receptor as Toll-like receptor 4. This discovery implicated the mammalian Toll-like receptors as the primary sensors of diverse infections, informing the host immune system of the presence of microbes within minutes of their inoculation. Through random germline mutagenesis in mice, he then identified many proteins that participate in both innate and adaptive immune development, signaling, and effector function. In 2011, he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Jules A. Hoffman and Ralph Steinman. He is a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, and the recipient of the Robert Koch Prize, Balzan Prize, Albany Prize, and Shaw Prize among many other awards.


Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Ph.D., is the Malcolm Gillis University Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professor. She also is the director of Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health. She received her Ph.D. in medical physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which she also holds an M.S. in physics. For two decades, Richards-Kortum has focused on translating research that integrates advances in nanotechnology and molecular imaging with microfabrication technologies to develop optical imaging systems that are inexpensive, portable, and provide point-of-care diagnosis. This work has been honored with many awards including the Presidential Young Investigator award. Her research has led to the development of 29 patents. She is author of a textbook, more than 230 refereed research papers and 11 book chapters. Richards-Kortum is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences and an inaugural member of the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering for the National Institutes of Health. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Hans Clevers, M.D. Ph.D., is professor of molecular genetics at the Hubrecht Institute and Research-Director of the Princess Máxima Centre for Paediatric Oncology, both in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Hans Clevers obtained his medical degree in 1984 and his Ph.D. in 1985 from the University Utrecht. His postdoctoral work (1986-1989) was done with Cox Terhorst at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of the Harvard University, Boston, USA. His research has focused on Wnt signalling in a variety of model organisms and more recently on Wnt-driven stem cells and cancers in mouse and man. He is a member and past-president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and of the French Academie des Sciences. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Dutch Spinoza Award, the Swiss Louis Jeantet Prize, the German Meyenburg Cancer Research Award and the Ernst Jung-Preis für Medizin in 2011, the Heineken Prize in 2012 and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2013. He is Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.


Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D. is a professor of cell and molecular biology and of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley; the Li Ka Shing Chancellor's Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences; and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 1997. Doudna received her B.A. in biochemistry at Pomona College in 1985 and completed her Ph.D. in 1989 at Harvard University. Doudna was a postdoctoral research fellow in molecular biology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School from 1989 to 1991. She became a Lucille Markey postdoctoral associate at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Doudna began crystallizing catalytic RNA molecules with a goal of determining their three-dimensional structures, thus unlocking the key to their biochemical activities. In 1994, Doudna continued this work as a faculty member at Yale University, in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Doudna joined the faculty of UC Berkeley in 2003. A collaboration with the lab of Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D., led to the discovery of a new method for precisely manipulating genetic information. Cas9– an enzyme specialized for cutting DNA – can be programmed with single RNA molecules to cleave specific DNA sites, creating a simple and versatile system for genome targeting and editing. Doudna has received numerous awards for her work including the 2014 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the 2014 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Biological Sciences.


Thomas Südhof, M.D., is the Avram Goldstein Professor in the School of Medicine and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. He received his M.D. and doctoral degrees from the University of Göttingen in 1982. He performed his doctoral thesis work at the Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie in Göttingen with Prof. Victor P. Whittaker on the biophysical structure of secretory granules. From 1983-1986, Südhof trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Drs. Mike Brown and Joe Goldstein at UT Southwestern in Dallas, TX. Südhof then began his independent career as an assistant professor at UT Southwestern in 1986. When Südhof started his laboratory, he decided to switch from cholesterol metabolism to neuroscience, and to pursue a molecular characterization of synaptic transmission. Later on, Südhof's work turned to the analysis of synapse formation and specification. Südhof served on the faculty of UT Southwestern in Dallas until 2008, and among others was the founding chair of the Department of Neuroscience at that institution. In 2008, Südhof moved to his current position at Stanford where he went on to win The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2013. In addition, Dr. Südhof has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1986.

Dame Carol Robinson, DBE, FRS, FMedSci

Dame Carol Robinson, DBE, FRS, FMedSci holds the Chair of Doctor Lee’s Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and is a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Professor Robinson received her PhD from Churchill College, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, in 1982. She is renowned for pioneering the use of mass spectrometry as an analytical tool and for her ground-breaking research into the 3D structure of proteins. Highlights from her work include the discovery that membrane protein complexes can be liberated from micelles in the gas phase while retaining their subunits interactions, lipid binding properties and overall topology providing a new view of membrane proteins and better insight to the role they play in many human diseases and conditions. Professor Robinson is the first female Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and was previously the first female Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge where she was elected a Professorial Fellow at Churchill College. She holds several Honorary titles including Fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Society Research Professor, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire which she received in 2013 for her services to science. Professor Robinson’s work has received much recognition over the years including the Rosalind Franklin Award, the Prelog Medal, FEBS/EMBO Woman of the Year Award, the Astra Zeneca Award from the Biochemical Society and the L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the University of Kent, University of York, University of Bristol and the University of Liverpool.

Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.

Richard P. Lifton is President of Rockefeller University. Lifton received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his MD and PhD degrees in Biochemistry from Stanford University. Following clinical training in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he continued on the faculty at Harvard Medical School before being recruited to Yale in 1993. Dr. Lifton was a Sterling Professor of Genetics and Internal Medicine and was Chair of the Department of Genetics from 1998-201 while at Yale University. He founded and was the Executive Director of the Yale Center for Genome Analysis and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale School of Medicine. In his research, Lifton has pioneered the use of genetics and genomics to understand fundamental mechanisms underlying human diseases, including cardiovascular disease, neoplasia, kidney disease, and osteoporosis. His work on hypertension has provided the scientific foundation for modulating salt balance to both prevent and treat high blood pressure, informing public health efforts and therapeutic strategies now used worldwide. Lifton has received the highest scientific awards of the American Heart Association, the American Society of Nephrology, the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, the American Society of Hypertension, the International Society of Hypertension, and the International Society of Nephrology. He received the 2008 Wiley Prize for Biomedical Sciences and the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Currently, he is a member of the advisory committee to the director of the National Institutes of Health and also serves on several scientific advisory bodies such as the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard and the Whitehead Institute. Lifton is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has served on the governing councils of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.