The HudsonAlpha Life Sciences Prize recognizes scientists who have made innovative contributions to life sciences research with the potential for positive impact on human health and social well-being. The HudsonAlpha faculty select awardees with outstanding achievements in scientific discovery, genomic medicine, economic development and public science education. Award recipients reflect HudsonAlpha’s core values of cooperation, collaboration and the ability to integrate ideas across different areas of thought and expertise. 

2021 HudsonAlpha Life Sciences Prize Recipient

Patrick O. Brown, MD, PhD
Renowned geneticist & CEO and Founder of Impossible Foods 

Patrick O. Brown is CEO and founder of Impossible Foods, a company at the forefront of making nutritious, delicious meat and dairy products from plants to satisfy meat lovers and address the environmental impact of animal farming. Before founding Impossible Foods, Dr. Brown had a storied career in genetic research. He and his colleagues defined the mechanism by which HIV and other retroviruses incorporate their genes into the genomes of the cells they infect, developed the DNA microarray, and pioneered the use of gene expression patterns to classify cancers and improve prediction of their clinical course. Dr. Brown also co-founded the Public Library of Science, a nonprofit scientific publisher that made scientific and medical research results freely available to the public.

Join HudsonAlpha on October 13, 2021 at 11:30 am for an online dialogue and fireside chat with Dr. Brown. Learn more about his journey as a scientist and founder, and about genetic solutions for the costs and consequences of the human diet.

History of the HudsonAlpha Life Sciences Prize

The annual HudsonAlpha Life Sciences Prize was instituted in 2008 by HudsonAlpha co-founder, Lonnie McMillian, and recognizes an academic scientist who has made outstanding and ongoing contributions that emphasize imagination, innovation, and the potential for impact on society and/or human health. For the first several years, the prize highlighted Alabama scientists, with the nomination and selection of prize candidates carried out by Institute leadership together with the Scientific Advisory Board. A decade later, the award includes scientists around the world, emphasizing achievements that exemplify HudsonAlpha’s key missions.

Past Recipients


Susan R. Wessler, PhD

University of California, Riverside
Home Secretary, US National Academy of Science 

Honored for her genomics research in transposable elements.


Charles Rotimi, PhD

National Institutes of Health

Honored for his genomics research in health disparities.


Bruce Alberts, PhD

University of California, San Francisco

Honored for his extraordinary contributions to, and advocacy for, science and science education.


Mary-Claire King, PhD

University of Washington

Honored for her foundational work on genetic susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer.

Jay Shendure, PhD

University of Washington

Honored for his innovative work in the development and application of genomic technology to human biology and disease.


Tim Townes, PhD

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Honored for his longstanding research on understanding and treating sickle cell and related blood disorders.


Casey Weaver, MD

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Honored for his work on immune protection and immune disease.


Guy Caldwell, PhD, and Kim Caldwell, PhD

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Honored for their work on the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disease.

The Sculpture

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology presents the HudsonAlpha Life Sciences Prize recipient with a glass sculpture crafted by Cal Breed, a local artist with Orbix Hot Glass.

The sculpture links us to beginnings. Fittingly so, the egg design of the HudsonAlpha Life Science Prize reflects the refined sculpture’s form and each piece has distilled colors and detailed shapes that are unique to each scientific prize winner.