About the award

Johann Anton Merck (1756-1805) was pharmacist of the family pharmacy in the fifth generation. He combined work in the pharmacy with scientific research, published in scientific journals and was characterized by curiosity, a passion for innovative concepts, and a strive to build global collaboration networks. He created the spirit that enabled the success of his son Heinrich Emanuel Merck who then established our pharmaceutical and chemical factory. 

The Johann Anton Merck award is a prestigious annual achievement award for outstanding scientific preclinical research accomplishments in the areas of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany ‘s strategic focus in healthcare. The award is an achievement award given out annually and comes with a €30,000 prize.

This award program is not open to HCPs.

Recent Laureates

Carola Vinuesa is Professor and Principal group leader at the Francis Crick Institute. Her research in the field of immunology includes many groundbreaking discoveries that have significantly advanced our understanding of the immune system and the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. Her work on the specialized subsets of immune cells, particularly the Follicular Helper T cells and Follicular Regulatory cells, has been instrumental in identifying novel genes and critical roles that are crucial to the development and progression of autoimmune diseases. Her recent discovery of TLR7 mutation as a genetic cause for Lupus is yet another significant milestone in her research.

Steve Jackson is University of Cambridge Professor of Biology, and Head of CRUK Laboratories at the Gurdon Institute. His research identified key principles by which cells respond to and repair DNA damage and helped define how their dysfunction yields cancer and other age-related diseases. Steve is a member of EMBO, the Royal Society and the UK Academy of Medical Sciences. To translate his science towards medical applications, Steve founded several biotechnology companies, including KuDOS Pharmaceuticals Ltd that – under Steve’s scientific leadership – developed the PARP inhibitor olaparib/LynparzaTM, an innovative first-in-class drug marketed worldwide for certain ovarian, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers.

Burkhard Becher is professor and chairman at the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the University of Zurich and heads the Unit for Inflammation Research. The Johann Anton Merck Award was awarded to Processor Becher on the basis of his work in the field of Neuroimmunology and Cancer using state of the art immunophenotyping and single cell technologies which enable a better understanding of disease mechanisms and treatment effects as well as his groundbreaking contribution over the past 25 years to the field of Neuroinflammation and innate & adaptive immune mechanisms driving Neurodegeneration in Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer disease.

Caroline Dive is a Senior Group Leader and Deputy Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. Professor Caroline Dive and her team in the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute are working side by side with the Christie Hospital, developing ‘liquid biopsies’ to hunt cancer cells that have broken free from tumours and are circulating in the bloodstream. Professor Dive is focusing on lung cancer, the world’s biggest cancer killer. Developing simple blood tests to capture cancer cells could help researchers understand how lung cancer changes as it grows and spreads, and how it can become resistant to treatment.

Recent prize winners




Award area

2023 Carola Vinuesa Francis Crick Institute Discovering the TLR7 mutation as a genetic cause for Lupus.
2022 Stephen Jackson University of Cambridge Translation of fundamental biological research towards new medicines
2021 Burkhard Becher University of Zurich  Immune mechanisms driving neurodegeneration in Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer disease
2020 Caroline Dive Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute Liquid biopsies for circulating cancer cells