On November 16, Virginia M.Y. Lee, PhD, MBA, and John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, both professors of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, were given the John Scott Award, Philadelphia’s most prestigious scientific award, in a ceremony held at the American Philosophical Society.

The award, established by a gift from Edinburgh chemist John Scott in the early 1800s, is one of the oldest science prizes in the United States.

I, John Scott, late chemist in Edinburgh, do leave to the corporation of Philadelphia…four thousand dollars… the interest of which is to be laid out in premiums to ingenious men or women who make useful inventions, but no one of such premiums shall exceed twenty dollars, and along with which shall be given a copper medal with this inscription—To the most deserving.

Lee and Trojanowski were given their copper medals, along with a certificate and the recently increased prize of $12,000, for their contribution to research in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award which is recognition of a great team effort in the Penn Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research to hasten the day when we have truly effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, frontotemporal degeneration and other aging-related neurodegenerative diseases,” said Trojanowski, director of the Penn Institute on Aging. “We also are grateful to the University of  Pennsylvania  for staunch support of our research programs.”

Previous recipients of the award Marie Curie, Orville Wright, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Nikola Tesla, Edwin H. Land, Vannevar Bush, Alexander Fleming, Glenn T. Seaborg, John Bardeen, and Jonas Salk. At Penn Medicine, recent recipients include Christian J. Lambertsen (2010, for development of SCUBA gear) and Albert J. Stunkard (2007, for work on childhood obesity).

“I echo John’s comment that this award is a tribute to Penn as well as the commitment and the efforts of the amazing group of individuals in our Center to make a difference in the lives of our patients who are affected by these neurodegenerative disorders as well as to their families,” said Lee, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research. “This award is especially meaningful because it is awarded by the City of Philadelphia which has become our adopted home town.”

The Board of Directors of City Trusts is charged with the administration of 115 trusts left to the City of Philadelphia for charitable purposes.

“It is our great pleasure at the Board of Directors of City Trusts to honor these distinguished winners and applaud their extraordinary achievements in science and medicine,” said Hon. Ronald R. Donatucci, President of The Board of Directors of City Trusts. “The John Scott Award is given to ‘the most deserving men and women for their outstanding contributions to mankind.’ Clearly, as world renowned leaders in their field, they have epitomized the purpose of the award.”

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