Bratislava, August 25 (TASR) – Professor Jan Vilcek was awarded the prestigious scientific degree of Doctor of Biological Sciences, honoris causa, at the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) on Thursday, SAV spokesperson Zuzana Vitkova told TASR on the same day.
“I’m really impressed and very, very grateful for this outstanding honour. I really appreciate it and I find it symbolic that I was given the title in the SAV building and in the Institute of Virology, where I started my scientific career,” said Vilcek, a native of Bratislava, who has been living and working in New York since his emigration in 1965.
Vilcek, 83, is one of the world’s most quoted immunologists. His research has led to many practical applications in medicine and, nowadays, they have mainly been used in the form of a drug known as Remicade, which reduces the effects of substances in the body that cause inflammation.
“But the most valuable thing is that a huge number of people around the world owe him their lives or good health, especially patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, etc.,” said Vitkova.
Moreover, the immunologist is also a philanthropist. Via his Vilcek Foundation (2000), he is trying to raise public awareness about how immigrants have contributed to the professional, academic and artistic life in the USA. Furthermore, certain amount of money is used to support research and scholarships for students and young scientists at New York University.
For his scientific and social activities, and exceptional results Vilcek has received many important awards, such as the National Medal of Technology and Innovation – awarded by President Barack Obama in 2013, Goodwill Ambassador Award for representing Slovakia abroad in an outstanding manner – awarded by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak in 2010, and many others.
Jan Vilcek M.D., Ph.D. was born in Bratislava in 1933. He received his M.D. degree from Comenius University Medical School of Bratislava in 1957, and his Ph.D. in Virology from the Institute of Virology at SAV (then Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences) in 1962. In 1965, Vilcek and his wife Marica emigrated to the United States.