WLA Mourns Passing of a Scientific Giant, Co-Founder of WLA, Richard Lerner
Date: 2021-12-04
Source: WLA
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Prof. Richard Lerner, Co-Founder of the World Laureates Association (WLA) and the winner of 1994 Wolf Prize in Chemistry, passed away in San Diego, the U.S.A., on December 2, 2021, at the age of 83.
Prof. Richard Lerner was an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As one of the founders and pioneers of immunochemistry, he made outstanding contributions in this field that had attracted worldwide attention. As a highly creative and interdisciplinary scientist, Prof. Richard Lerner’s pioneering research on combinatorial antibody libraries, catalytic antibodies and DNA coded libraries profoundly impacted biomedicine and chemical biology; and his scientific endeavors have propelled great leaps in drug development and discovery.
Prof. Richard Lerner served as Director and President of the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) from 1987 to 2012. Under his leadership, the TSRI became one of the largest biomedical research institutions in the world and trained a significant number of internationally-renowned scholars. In his long-term engagement and support to China’s science and technology development, Prof. Richard Lerner was officially appointed as a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of ShanghaiTech University in October 2012, and served as the Founding Director of Shanghai Institute for Advanced Immunochemical Studies (SIAIS). At the beginning of SIAIS, he led the establishment of the Lab of Antibody Design. Since then, he started close cooperation with many Chinese scientists, playing a critical role in scientific research and talent training.
In 2017, Prof. Richard Lerner and four other world laureates – Roger Kornberg, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry; Michael Levitt, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry; Barry Sharpless, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry; and Kurt Wüthrich, 2002 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, jointly founded the WLA and gave it its current name. Under the lofty vision of "Science and Technology for the Common Destiny of Mankind", Prof. Richard Lerner guided the WLA to carry out active and fruitful work all over the world, especially in China, centered around the three missions of "promoting basic science, advocating for international cooperation and supporting the development of youth".
Through more than four years of development, WLA has now developed into one of the world’s highest-profile laureate organizations. World Laureates Forum (WLF), initiated by WLA in 2018, has become an annual scientific event with a global reputation. Despite his illness, Prof. Richard Lerner never stopped exploring science and continued to support the development of the WLA. On October 30, 2020, together with domestic and foreign scientists, he witnessed the grand opening of the 3rd World Laureates Forum through online video, and shared his insights on the treatment of COVID-19 from the perspective of the artificial immune system.
WLA is deeply saddened by the passing of Prof. Richard Lerner and is sending our sincerest condolences to his family. It is truly a tragic loss to the association and the international immunology community.
Prof. Richard Lerner's long-term care for human destiny, endless passion for scientific exploration, highly entrepreneurial innovation and research, inspiring visions in international cooperation, charismatic personality as well as his lifelong dedication to training the younger generation will always be remembered.
May Prof. Richard Lerner rest in peace!


                                                                                                                                       The World Laureates Association
                                                                                                                                                  December 4, 2021