Stanford immunologist gets $446,000 award for his role in developing fluorescence activated cell sorter
By Stephen Pincock | June 9, 2006
Immunologist Leonard A. Herzenberg, 74, of Stanford University, has been named as a winner of the annual Kyoto Prize for his role in the development of the fluorescence activated cell sorter (FACS).
The Inamori Foundation, which awards the prize, said that Herzenberg's first contribution came in 1969, when he gathered a team of engineers, physicists, and computer scientists to create the first FACS prototype.
Using the plans for a modified particle separator that had been developed by Mack Fulwyler at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1965, Herzenberg's team at Stanford built two successful prototypes.
The first, in 1969, employed a mercury arc lamp as light source, the Smithsonian Institution records in a 1991 history of the field. This was followed by a 1972 version that used an argon ion laser to detect cells tagged with fluorescent markers.
With funding from the National Institutes of Health, Herzenberg and the Stanford engineers interested the company Becton Dickinson in commercializing their instruments in 1975.
"The arrival of this groundbreaking flow cytometer made it possible to rapidly count and sort cells with specific attributes, and isolate and analyze DNA, RNA, and protein from a single cell in a viable condition," the Inamori Foundation said.
"In terms of flow cytometry, in terms of FACS, he's really the founding father," said Derek Davies, head of the FACS laboratory at Cancer Research UK. "It was really him and Richard Sweet getting together that led to the development of the machines we have today."
Herzenberg has already won numerous other prizes including a lifetime service award from the American Association of Immunologists in 1998, the American Association of Clinical Chemistry's Edwin D. Ullman Award in 2002, and the Novartis Award for Immunology in 2004. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1982. One of his papers, from 1973, has been cited more than 5,000 times.
"I'm extremely pleased and excited to receive the award," he said in a statement released by Stanford and reported by the Associated Press. "I only wish it were possible to be shared with my wife and lifelong colleague, Leonore Herzenberg."
The Kyoto Prizes recognize lifelong contributions in the categories of Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy. The Inamori Foundation has issued the awards annually since 1985.
This year, Japanese statistical mathematician Hirotugu Akaike, 78, a
professor emeritus at the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, won the basic science prize. Japanese designer Issey Miyake, 68, was awarded the prize for philosophy.
Each laureate will receive a Kyoto Prize Medal of 20-karat gold, and a cash gift of 50 million yen (approximately US$446,000) during a week of ceremonies beginning November 10, 2006, in Kyoto, Japan.
Links within this article
HR Hulett, et al, "Cell sorting: automated separation of mammalian cells as a function of intracellular fluorescence." Science, November 7, 1969.
B. Auer and TV. Shankey, "A FACS check," The Scientist, September 27, 2004.
History of the Cell Sorter: Smithsonian Video History
J. Perkel, "Fluorescence-activated cell sorter," The Scientist, July 19, 2004.
M.H. Julius, E. Simpson, L.A. Herzenberg, "A rapid method for the isolation of functional thymus-derived murine lymphocytes,' European Journal of Immunology, October 1973.