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August M. Watanabe Prize in Translational Research

Awarded by Indiana University School of Medicine

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The August M. Watanabe Prize

Indiana University School of Medicine is pleased to award the August M. Watanabe prize in translational research. The prize is one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious awards, recognizing individuals focused on shepherding scientific discoveries into new therapies for patients. The prize is awarded to a senior investigator who has made a significant contribution to the field of translational science. The winner receives $100,000 and travels to Indianapolis as a visiting dignitary, sharing insights and knowledge with audiences at IU School of Medicine and its partner institutions.

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2023 winner of the Watanabe Prize in Translational Research 

Huda Y. Zoghbi, MD, has been named the 2023 winner of the August M. Watanabe Prize in Translational Research and will be honored at the 2023 Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) Annual Meeting on Friday, September 22, 2023. Zoghbi is a Distinguished Service Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, and an investigator with Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Zoghbi’s research focuses on patients who are suffering from rare and mysterious disorders, including Rett syndrome. Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a genetic mutation which leads to serious impairment, affecting a child’s ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe. The disorder is usually recognized in girls under the age of two. Zoghbi’s research has also contributed to the understanding of a wide variety of neurological disorders and other diseases including deafness, pediatric brain tumors and sudden infant death syndrome.

Past Recipients


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Adrian Krainer, PhD

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Nancy J. Brown, MD

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Brian Druker, MD

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David Holtzman, MD

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Jean Bennett, MD, PhD

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Robert J. Lefkowitz, MD

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Carl H. June, MD

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Tadataka Yamada, MD

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2024 Nominations

Nominees should be members of the scientific or medical community who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in translational research. The winner will receive $100,000 and will spend Sept. 18-20, 2024, in Indianapolis as a vising dignitary, sharing insights and knowledge with audiences at IU School of Medicine and its partner institutions. The winner will also be the keynote speaker for the 2024 Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Annual Meeting.

Submit the following complete nomination materials to with the nominee’s name in the subject line:

  • A copy of the nominee’s current curriculum vitae (CV).
  • A letter of nomination, including a detailed description of the nominee’s major translational research accomplishments and the impact of these contributions to the fields of science and/or medicine. Letters should be submitted on official letterhead and signed by the nominator.

Note: The 2024 nominee must be available to travel to Indianapolis from Sept. 18-20, 2024.

The deadline for all nomination materials is May 1. Please email any questions about the nomination process to or call 317-278-2874.

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The Watanabe Legacy

The Watanabe prize is named in honor of the late August Watanabe, a titan in the field of translational research in both academia and industry who impacted the health of people around the world as a leader at Indiana University School of Medicine and Eli Lilly and Company.

Dr. Watanabe began his career at IU in 1972 and served as chair of the Department of Medicine from 1983 to 1990. From there, he joined Eli Lilly and Company, where he was ultimately named executive vice president, overseeing the launch of 11 drugs and doubling the size of Lilly’s research and development staff.

The Watanabe Prize in Translational Research was established to honor Dr. Watanabe’s unparalleled dedication to scientific inquiry and his tireless advocacy of translational research.

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The design of the Watanabe crest is based on the ancient Japanese Wataribe clan, from which the name Watanabe is derived. The crest symbolizes a ferry, as the Wataribe clan ran ferry services throughout Japan. Fittingly, Dr. Watanabe helped “ferry” discoveries through the scientific pipeline, delivering them to patients in the form of the new treatments and, ultimately, hope for a healthier tomorrow.