Officers and Trustees
Jan T. Vilcek , M.D., Ph.D.
President and Cofounder
Dr. Jan T. Vilcek, Professor of Microbiology at New York University School of Medicine, was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), where he also received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. In 1964 he and his wife, Marica Vilcek, an art historian, defected from what was then communist Czechoslovakia. Upon immigrating to the United States in 1965, Dr. Vilcek joined the faculty of NYU School of Medicine.
Dr. Vilcek has devoted his scientific career to the study of cytokines – hormone-like proteins produced in the body that control the immune system and host defenses. He was among the first scientists to investigate interferon, an important immune system protein. Subsequently, Dr. Vilcek focused his studies on another cytokine, called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Dr. Vilcek’s contributions to the understanding of proteins that control the body’s defenses were instrumental in the development of the anti-inflammatory drug Remicade®, the first member of a new class of therapeutics called TNF blockers that are now widely used for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis and other chronic inflammatory disorders.
Dr. Vilcek published more than 350 papers in scholarly journals and he is serving on editorial boards of numerous professional publications. He holds 46 U.S. patents and has been a member of many national and international committees.
In 2005 New York University awarded Dr. Vilcek the Albert Gallatin Medal, the University’s highest honor, bestowed for outstanding contributions to society. He is an honorary alumnus of NYU School of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science, and an honorary lifetime member of two other scientific societies. He received the J. E. Purkynie Honorary Medal from the Czech Academy of Sciences in 2008. He was elected to the Biotechnology Hall of Fame in 2010, and received the Outstanding American by Choice Award from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2012. Also in 2012, President Obama named Dr. Vilcek a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
In 2000 Dr. Vilcek and his wife established The Vilcek Foundation, whose main mission is to recognize, honor and publicize outstanding contributions of immigrants to the sciences, arts and humanities in the United States.
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