McLellan Named Recipient of Award for Achievement in Public Health

October 16, 2023 • by Esther Robards-Forbes

Jason McLellan has been named the recipient of a Research!America Advocacy Award for his work on COVID-19 vaccines.

Jason McLellan wearing a white lab coat standing in front of the cryo-electron microscope at The University of Texas at Austin.

McLellan, a professor of molecular biosciences and the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin, will receive the 2024 Building the Foundation Award, a part of the Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Awards. The award recognizes basic research discoveries that have played a critical role in advancing public health.

McLellan led a team of researchers in 2020 who developed the first 3D atomic-scale map of the SARS-CoV-2 viral spike protein, which allowed for early work on vaccines. His team also developed a way to optimize these proteins through genetic engineering to boost the body’s immune response. This technology is being used in the leading COVID-19 vaccines.

“We are proud to honor all of our 2024 Advocacy Award recipients. These remarkable individuals and organizations – through their innovation, dedication, resilience, and creativity – have been instrumental in advancing our nation’s commitment to research,” said Mary Woolley, President and CEO of Research!America in a news release. “In their own way, each honoree has expedited research advancement, bolstered the research enterprise, and heightened public and policymaker awareness and support of medical and health research.”

Presentation of the award will take place in March 2024. Research!America is a nonprofit medical and health research advocacy alliance which advocates for science, discovery and innovation to achieve better health for all. This is the 28th year the awards have been given.