Photo courtesy of Jan Vilcek official website
After defecting from what was then Communist Czechoslovakia in 1965, Jan Vilcek joined the New York University School of Medicine faculty and went on to devote his career to the study of cytokines, bodily proteins that control the immune system. His discoveries led to the development of Remicade and a new class of drugs that treat many health disorders. In 2000 he and his wife established the Vilcek Foundation, which honors American immigrants who have made outstanding contributions to science and art. He was awarded the 2012 National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Obama.