Gregori Aminoff Prize Laureate has provided new knowledge about the immune system

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Gregori Aminoff Prize in crystallography 2024 to Professor Hao Wu, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA. She receives the prize for her ground-breaking studies of complex protein structures in the innate immune system.

Hao Wu, Gregori Aminoff Prize Laureate 2024.
Hao Wu, Gregori Aminoff Prize Laureate 2024.

The innate immune system provides the body with its first line of response to dangerous bacteria, viruses and hazardous substances, and consists of proteins on the cells’ surface and inside them. Once the system is activated, large protein complexes are built for the purpose of neutralising the attacking organisms.

Professor Wu has used protein crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy, where the latter is a method for preparing the material to be investigated in an electron microscope by freezing it at extremely low temperatures. This has allowed her to establish how these protein complexes form, as well as their structures. Her research has led to an entirely new and improved understanding of how the innate immune system functions.

“Professor Wu is a master at identifying important biological issues and solving them using advanced structural and biochemical methods. Her discoveries may be of huge importance in understanding the causes of inflammatory diseases, their progression and treatment,” says Björn Dahlbäck, professor emeritus at Lund University and a member of the Prize Committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Prize citation

“for her discoveries by crystallography of the assembly mechanisms of large oligomeric signaling complexes in innate immunity, a paradigm-shifting concept in signal transduction.”

About the laureate

Hao Wu was born 1964 in Beijing, China, where she grew up and studied medicine at the Peking Union Medical College. She then received her Ph.D. in biochemistry in the US, at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1992. She became a professor of biochemistry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, 2003. Since 2012 she has been the Asa and Patricia Springer Professor at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children´s Hospital, Massachusetts, USA.

About the Gregori Aminoff Prize

Every year, the Gregori Aminoff Prize in crystallography is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Crystallography is the study of atomic structures in solid materials and is used in chemistry, biology, medicine, geology and materials science.

The Prize recognises a documented individual contribution to the field of crystallography and has been awarded to Swedish and foreign researchers since 1979. The prize money is 80,000 Swedish kronor.

Press contact:
Eva Nevelius, Press Secretary at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
+46-70-878 67 63

Björn Dahlbäck, professor emeritus, Lund University