History of the IFPCS Awards

As much as all IFPCS awardees are honored when they are awarded one of the IFPCS awards we should also remember who were these prestigious scientists whose names identify these awards, and which were their remarkable achievements in the pigmentation field. Herewith you can find a collection of obituaries and/or comments from these researchers that we believe are worth revisiting, in remembrance of these colleagues preceding all of us and their findings. 

Note: Listed according to their year of birth.


Henry Stanley Raper (1882-1951) Source: Biochemical Journal

Henry Stanley Raper (1882-1951)

The H.S Raper Medal is an award selected by the ESPCR and the IFPCS as an international recognition of outstanding contributions to the biochemistry of pigmentation, and to perpetuate the memory of Henry Stanley Raper, a prestigious biochemist best known for his pioneer work on the metabolism of fat and the formation of melanin. His name was especially known in the field because the original version of the biosynthetic pathway from tyrosine to melanin bore his name – the Raper-Mason (or Mason-Raper) pathway.  

The H.S. Raper medal was established in 1993, during the XV IPCC held in London, the first time an IPCC conference was organized under the auspices of ESPCR. The H.S Raper Medal is awarded at IPCCs and, since 2020, it is also associated with a lecture, as agreed by ESPCR board in 2018.

Additional reading:

Henry Stanley Raper. Obituary Notice by L. P. Kendal. Biochem J. 1952 Nov; 52(3): 353.b2–356.

Henry Stanley Raper, 1882 – 1951. Obituary by Percival Hartley. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. Volume 8, Issue 2, 230 November 1953



Myron Gordon (1899-1959) Source: John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Myron Gordon (1899-1959)

The Myron Gordon Award was instituted to perpetuate the memory of a beloved and respected scientist, Myron Gordon, an American biologist and geneticist who became an expert on platyfish Xiphophorus while using them for his pioneering cancer research. He developed advanced systems to study genetic and molecular events in melanoma formation. Myron Gordon was responsible for inaugurating the Pigment Cell Conferences (IPCC). The Myron Gordon Award is presented at each International Pigment Cell Conference to recognize one or more scientists for distinguished and outstanding contributions to the pigment cell field.

Note: Established and presented in 1961 at IPCC V (New York) following the death of Myron Gordon in 1959. Myron Gordon was the Organizer of the first 4 IPCCs.

Additional reading:

Myron Gordon (wikipedia)

Myron Gordon, 1899-1959 by James W. Atz and Donn E. Rosen. Copeia. Vol. 1959, No. 4 (Dec. 30, 1959), pp. 352-354

Myron Gordon, John Simon Memorial Foundation


Thomas B. Fitzpatrick (1899-1959) Source: JAMA Network

Thomas B. Fitzpatrick (1919-2003)

The Thomas B Fitzpatrick Medal is an Award dedicated to the memory of late Thomas B Fitzpatrick, Edward C Wigglesworth Professor of Dermatology, Chairman Emeritus, Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA and selected by the IFPCS as an international recognition of outstanding contributions to the basic and clinical research on pigment cells and malignant melanoma. Thomas B. Fitzpatrick was a reference for basic and clinical dermatological research. His fundamental observations and creative applications of knowledge markedly advanced the understanding of pigmentation, aging, and disorders of the skin. His name is best known by dermatologists because of his classification of human skin types 1-6, still sometimes known as Fitzpatrick skin types.

It is for the best publication in the previous three years in the journal Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, the official journal of the IFPCS and SMR. The Fitzpatrick Medal was established in 2008 and presented at the XX IPCC in Sapporo and has been associated, since then, with a lecture given by the selected awardee at every IPCC.

Additional reading:

Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, MD, PhD (1919-2003) by John A. Parrish, MD. Arch Dermatol. 2003;139(12):1613.

Thomas Fitzpatrick, 83; Treated Skin Diseases by Anahad O’Connor, The New York Times, August 23, 2003.

Thomas B. Fitzpatrick (wikipedia)


Fritz Anders (1919-1999) Source: Science connections

Fritz Anders (1919-1999)

The Fritz Anders Medal and Lecture was established by the ESPCR in remembrance of the prestigious German scientist, Fritz Anders (Berlin, 1919-Giessen, 1999), Professor of Genetics at the University of Giessen, who pioneered studies of genetics of melanoma using fish animal models. Fritz (and Annerose) Anders. using Gordon’s melanoma-prone Xiphophorus fish, identified the first mapped vertebrate oncogene, Xmrk, related to the ERBB family, as well as the first mapped vertebrate tumour suppressor gene Diff, related to the p16/CDKN2 family.

The Fritz Anders medal is awarded at the annual ESPCR meetings (every second meeting after the corresponding IPCC conference) and it is associated with a Keynote Lecture of the awarded researcher.

Additional reading:

Annerose und Fritz Anders, Science connections

Fritz Anders (wikipedia, in German)


Aaron B. Lerner (1921-2007) Source: melatonine

Aaron B. Lerner (1920-2007)

Aaron B. Lerner was an American dermatologist known for discovering the melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) and melatonin, among many other contributions to the pigmentation field that eventually led to treatments for many skin disorders. 

The Aaron B. Lerner/PASPCR Special Lectureship is sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc and is awarded annually. The lecturer will be an active and outstanding researcher who is currently making a significant impact on the field of pigment cell research. The lecturer does not need to be a member of the PASPCR or any other pigment cell society.

The Aaron B. Lerner Lecture is awarded annually, at each PASPCR and IPCC meetings. Only IPCC awardees are listed in the IFPCS web site, for a full list of awarded scienstists with this PASPCR distinction please visit the PASPCR web page.

Additional reading:

Aaron B. Lerner (1920-2007) by Lee Lewis Husk, The Oregon Encyclopedia

Aaron B. Lerner, 1920–2007, in memoriam. by Ethan Lerner, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Volume 127, Issue 9, September 2007, Pages 2077-2079

Aaron Lerner, 86, Innovative Skin Doctor, Dies by Jeremy Pearce, The New York Times, by Jeremy Pearce, February 20, 2007.

IN MEMORIAM Aaron B. Lerner, MD, PhD: A Personal Remembrance, by Irwin M. Braverman, 2090 Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2007), Volume 127.


Makoto Seiji (1926-1982) Source: The Journal of Dermatology

Makoto Seiji (1926-1982)

The Seiji Memorial Lectureship Award was instituted to perpetuate the memory of a beloved and respected scientist, Makoto Seiji, who was renowned for his clinical and basic research in pigment cell biology and pigmentary disorders. Professor Makoto Seiji investigated  melanin metabolism in the skin, clarifying the biosynthesis of melanin granules in the melanocytes and the transfer mechanism of melanin granules to keratinocytes. Makoto Seiji identified the melanosome as the site of melanin synthesis in vertebrates. He also undertook biochemical and electron microscopic investigations of the epidermal keratinization and malignant melanoma, molecular biological studies of xeroderma pigmentosum and other research in related areas.

The Seiji Memorial Lectureship Award is presented at each International Pigment Cell Conference to recognize an eminent scientist for distinguished and long-standing contributions to the pigment cell field.

Note: Established and presented in 1983 at IPCC XII (in Germany) following the death of Makoto Seiji in 1982.

Additional reading:

Seiji, M. (1982). OBITUARY. The Journal of Dermatology, 9(6), 428–428.

History of melanosome research, by Jan Borowanski, in: Melanins and Melanosomes: Biosynthesis, Biogenesis, Physiological, and Pathological Functions, First Edition. Edited by Jan Borovanský and Patrick A. Riley (2011) Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co.


Takuji Takeuchi (1930-1996) Source: Bioone

Takuji Takeuchi (1930-1996)

The Takeuchi Medal is an Award dedicated to the memory of Prof. Takuji Takeuchi,a pioneer in the field of developmental genetics of mouse pigmentation, and selected by the JSPCR as an international recognition of outstanding contributions to the molecular biology of pigmentation.

The Takeuchi Medal was established in 1996, at the XVI IPCC and presented since then at every IFPCS conference.

Additional reading:

OBITUARY by Hiroaki Yamamoto, Zoological Science, 14(2):183-184 (1997).