The “prix Galien de Pharmacologie” is organized each year in Belgium by the “Journal du Médecin”. It awards a work in fundamental or clinical Pharmacology that has been accomplished by a researcher or a team of researchers below the age of 40.
The Prix Galien de Pharmacologie 2016 (awarded in 2017) was awarded to Julien Hanson for his contribution to the study of understudied G protein coupled receptors. Julien Hanson is a Research Associates at the F.R.S.-FNRS and heads the Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology based at the GIGA (Molecular Biology of Disease) and the CIRM (Medicinal Chemistry). G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) are the main effectors for the transmission of extracellular signals and are involved in virtually any physiological processes, from vision to cardiac rhythm regulation or neurotransmission. Their key roles in the functioning of our physiology have made them prime targets for many drugs. It is estimated that 60% of the molecules used for therapeutic purposes have a mechanism of action that involves at least one GPCR. However, surprisingly, the majority of the 800 GPCRs that compose our genome have an unknown function. Because of their therapeutic efficacy, fundamental research on understudied receptors is required for the development of innovative drugs. The award-winning research focuses on these poorly characterized receptors, whether they are “orphans” (without described ligands) or without a well-defined function.