MANHASSET, N.Y., May 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Peter K. Gregersen, MD, a scientist at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, on Thursday was awarded the prestigious Crafoord Prize for his genetic research in the area of rheumatoid arthritis. The Prize award ceremony was held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS) in the presence of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden – the award was presented to Dr. Gregersen by the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf. "I am honored to receive this prize and proud of the research it celebrates," said Dr. Gregersen. "Thirty years ago we discovered there is a molecule involved in controlling the immune system and associated with rheumatoid arthritis. More recently it became apparent that this molecule interacts with smoking and leads to an altered immune response present in rheumatoid arthritis – this discovery changed our way of thinking and lead to a better understanding of how the rheumatoid arthritis develops." The Crafoord Prize is one of the world's pre-eminent scientific prizes, awarded in disciplines that complement those for which the Nobel Prizes are awarded. Dr. Gregersen shares this honor with two collaborators, Lars Klareskog, MD, from the Karoloinska Institute, Stockholm, and Robert Winchester, MD, from Columbia University. "The knowledge acquired by the 2013 Crafoord Laureates opens new possibilities for the prevention and better treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Their focused detective work has resulted in a hypothesis that the disease arises from the interplay between genetic inheritance and environmental influences," the Royal Academy said of Drs. Gregersen, Klareskog and Winchester. Dr. Gregersen will share a $600,000 award with his two colleagues. Dr. Gregersen has mounted collaborations across the world in an effort to expand the numbers of genetic specimens used to identify specific disease genes, with an emphasis on autoimmune disorders. The North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium, directed by Dr. Gregersen, has identified several major risk genes for rheumatoid arthritis.