Photo of Biogen, Inc.

Biogen, Inc.

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Medicine

For its leadership in applying breakthroughs in biology to the development of lifesaving and life-enhancing pharmaceutical products designed to treat large, previously underserved patient populations throughout the world, including development of hepatitis B vaccines, the first vaccines using recominant DNA technology.

Considering the honors Biogen’s researchers have garnered over the years, it was only a matter of time before the company itself was recognized, too. With the help of two Nobel prize winners and a knight, the Massachusetts-based biopharmaceutical company has developed groundbreaking treatments for a variety of rare diseases.

In 1980, founder Walter Gilbert won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in DNA sequencing, reading the body’s building blocks to better understand the origin of genetic disease. Thirteen years later founder Phillip Sharp received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of split genes, debunking the belief that all genes come in continuous form. Also in 1993, founder Kenneth Murray was knighted for his work in developing a vaccine for hepatitis B, a chronic and sometimes fatal kidney disease.

Their work has led to the development of drugs like Gazyva for leukemia (2012), Alprolix and Eloctate (2014) — the first two treatments in nearly 20 years for hemophilia, which prevents blood from clotting normally — and Plegridy (2014) for multiple sclerosis, a disorder of the nervous system.

By Lauren Clason