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Pioneering biochemist Craig Crews named winner of 2024 Kimberly Prize

Annual biochemistry and molecular genetics award recognizes a scientist whose molecular discovery has improved human health

CHICAGO --- Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics announced today that renowned biochemist Craig M. Crews, who pioneered the pharmaceutical field of targeted protein degradation, has been named the winner of the annual $250,000 Kimberly Prize in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.

Crews was selected for leading the development of the anti-cancer drug carfilzomib (KyprolisTM) for the treatment of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and for spearheading the development of PROTAC (proteolysis-targeting chimeras) drugs, which use heterobifunctional molecules — molecular homing devices fused to cellular protein adapters — to target specific proteins for destruction by the cell’s proteasome. Crews is credited with bringing PROTAC-based drugs into clinical trials, which could be used to treat an array of human diseases, including cancer.

This award, given by Kimberly Querrey in honor of her late husband, Lou Simpson, a Northwestern trustee, alumnus and benefactor, is the largest biochemistry award offered in the U.S. It is awarded annually to a scientist who has made outstanding biochemical research contributions to the molecular basis of life with a direct demonstrated link of their discovery into the clinic that improves human health.

“Craig is brilliantly talented, passionate and entrepreneurial,” said Dr. Eric G. Neilson, Lewis Landsberg Dean and Vice President for Medical Affairs at Feinberg. “His scientific work at the intersection of chemistry, biology and pharmacology underscores the critical importance of developing new therapeutic principles to fundamentally transform how drugs are developed.”

“Dr. Craig Crews embodies the vision for the Kimberly Prize in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. He has pioneered the field of ‘controlled proteostasis,’ in which small molecules are used to modulate the cell’s own mechanisms for regulating protein levels,” said Ali Shilatifard,, the chair and Robert Francis Furchgott Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at Feinberg, and director of the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics, which awards the annual Kimberly Prize.

“For his fundamental discoveries with broad impact on biology and medicine, we are honored to name Dr. Craig Crews as the 2024 recipient of the Kimberly Prize in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics awarded by the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine,” Shilatifard said.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized with this award and I thank the Feinberg School of Medicine and the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics for their generosity. I have greatly enjoyed watching the field of targeted protein degradation take off over these past two decades and hope that PROTAC-based drugs will offer patients new therapeutic options in the coming years,” said Crews.

About Craig M. Crews

Crews is the John C. Malone Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and professor of chemistry, of pharmacology, and of management at Yale University, where he also is executive director of the Yale Center for Molecular Discovery. He is the co-founder of Proteolix, Inc., whose proteasome inhibitor KyprolisTM received FDA approval for the treatment of multiple myeloma; the founder of Arvinas, Inc., the first biotechnology company to bring PROTAC drugs into clinical trials; and the founder of Halda Therapeutics, focused on experimental medicines for cancer. He received the 2023 Gabbay Award for Biotechnology and Medicine in 2023, the Scheele Prize in 2021, the Heinrich Wieland Prize in 2020, along with many other awards.

More about the Kimberly Prize

The annual prize is administered by Feinberg through the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics. Prize recipients deliver a public lecture on the Feinberg campus in Chicago, visit with faculty, fellows and students, and attend the award dinner. Crews will be honored with the Kimberly prize and give a public lecture on April 15, 2024.

Querrey has been instrumental in supporting Northwestern’s passion for basic molecular discoveries and their application to medicine.

 “We are building a program here at Northwestern University that is 100 percent supportive of doing innovative, cutting-edge science, and we are recognizing nationally and internationally individuals who contribute to that process,” Shilatifard said. “Kimberly and Lou have always been great friends in supporting this extraordinary and essential mission of the University.”