Seven researchers win prestigious Lasker Awards

Researchers recognized for revolutionizing hepatitis C treatment

The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation on Tuesday announced the winners of the 2016 Lasker Awards for basic medical research, clinical research, and special achievement.

The awards—among the world's most prestigious scientific prizes—recognize the achievements of clinicians, scientists, and public servants who have made significant advances in the understanding, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, or cure of human disease. Each of the three awards includes a $250,000 prize.

  • The Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award will be shared by William Kaelin of Harvard Medical School's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Peter Ratcliffe of the University of Oxford and the Francis Crick Institute, and Gregg Semenza of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for their work on discovering the pathway cells use to identify and adapt to changes in the availability of oxygen.
  • The Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award will be shared by Ralf Bartenschlager of the University of Heidelberg, Charles Rice of Rockefeller University, and Michael Sofia of Arbutus Biopharma for their work on revolutionizing the treatment of hepatitis C through the use of sofosbuvir—found in Gilead Sciences' Sovladi—which helped to reduce the duration of treatment and increase cure rates, while having less severe side effects than previous treatments.
  • The Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science will go to Bruce Alberts of the University of California, San Francisco, for his work in molecular biology and his advocacy for improving science and mathematics education.

Who's at the front of the research pack? It depends on who you ask.

Lasker Foundation President Claire Pomeroy said in a statement, "The work of this year's honorees epitomizes the power and impact of dedication to rigorous and innovative medical research," adding, "These outstanding advances have illuminated fundamental aspects of life, developed a cure for a deadly disease, and raised public engagement with science."

This year's awards will be presented at a ceremony in New York City on Sept. 23. Nearly 90 Lasker Award recipients also have been awarded a Nobel Prize (Yin, New York Times, 9/13; McDaniels, Baltimore Sun, 9/13; Thielking, "Morning Rounds," STAT News, 9/13; Loftus, Wall Street Journal, 9/13; Lasker Foundation release, 9/13).

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