Annette Oxenius receives the Cloëtta Prize

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The winner of the 2022 Cloëtta Prize, Annette Oxenius, investigates interactions
The winner of the 2022 Cloëtta Prize, Annette Oxenius, investigates interactions between viruses and immune cells. (Photograph: Peter Rüegg / ETH Zurich)

Together with her group, Annette Oxenius conducts research on the fundamental mechanisms of the body’s own immune cells as they react to viral infections. The immunologist has now been honoured with the Cloëtta Prize

Annette Oxenius, Professor of Immunology at ETH Zurich, has been awarded the prestigious Cloëtta Prize for her outstanding research work in the field of infection immunology. Her group analyses the body’s own defences against viral infections and their regulation in the context of acute and chronic viral infections.

-The prize is an important recognition of the work of my research group over the last 20 years at ETH Zurich - and it is a great honour for me and the current and former members of my lab,- says Oxenius.

Interactions between virus and host

Oxenius’s research aims to achieve a better understanding of the interactions between pathogens and their hosts. Her group is particularly interested in how the cells of the immune system can control or eliminate viral infections. Her internationally recognised work involves an original and comprehensive approach to understanding the fundamental mechanisms of how the immune system regulates immune reactions and adapts them specifically to each pathogen.

This approach includes analysis of the temporal dynamics of an immune response, the way that immune cells behave in tissue and how these processes are controlled on a molecular level. The analysis focuses on T and B lymphocytes, a group of white blood cells that can recognize and eliminate virus infected cells or produce virus-specific antibodies, respectively.

Committed basic researcher

Oxenius studied biochemistry, molecular biology and immunology at the University of Zurich. She was a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Experimental Immunology in Hans Hengartner and Rolf Zinkernagel’s lab, and received her doctorate in 1997 at ETH Zurich. After postdoc positions in Zurich and Oxford, she came to ETH Zurich in 2002 as an assistant professor. She has been Full Professor of Immunology at the Institute of Microbiology since 2012. She spent eight years on the ETH Zurich Research Commission and also headed the Department of Biology.

Oxenius and her team conduct basic research. Their insights create a foundation for developing potential new immunological interventions, such as preventative or therapeutic approaches, for viral infections.

-This would never have been possible without my team of committed, skilled scientists over the years, or the support provided by ETH, the Department of Biology and the Institute of Microbiology,- says Oxenius. -My sincere thanks go to everyone who has been involved in one way or another.-

Cloëtta Prize

Since 1974, this scientific prize has been awarded annually by the external page Max Cloëtta Foundation to two Swiss or foreign individuals who have made a particularly valuable contribution to medical research. The prize is worth CHF 50,000.

The 2022 Cloëtta Prize will be awarded on 25 November 2022 at 5 p.m. at the University of Geneva. Alongside the ETH immunologist Annette Oxenius, Doron Merkler from the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Medicine will also receive the prize this year.

Michael Keller