2015 Lasker awards given to genetics, cancer discoveries, Doctors Without Borders

The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced Tuesday the winners of the 2015 Lasker Awards, which are considered among the most prestigious prizes in medical science and are known as "America's Nobels" because 86 recipients have gone on to earn a Nobel Prize in 70 years.

The following Lasker Awards will be presented on Friday, Sept. 18, in New York City and award winners will receive $250,000 for each category.

  • 2015 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award — Evelyn M. Witkin, PhD, and Stephen J. Elledge, PhD. Drs. Witkin and Elledge won the Lasker Award for their discoveries in DNA-damage response, which protects the genome from external forces such as chemicals and radiation. Dr. Witkin is credited with identifying that bacteria trigger a protective response to DNA damage and Dr. Elledge detailed the pathway in which cells discover and respond to abnormal DNA.
  • 2015 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award — James P. Allison, PhD. Dr. Allison won the Lasker Award for his discovery and development of a therapy that helps the immune system fight cancer. Dr. Allison's work is a monoclonal antibody therapy that employs T Cells to fight tumors. His work helped hundreds of patients with metastatic melanoma prolong life by more than a decade and opened doors to cancer therapies that harness the body's own immune system.
  • 2015 Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award — Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières in French, is awarded the prize for its frontline response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa, which began in March 2014. Doctors Without Borders provided the first and only response for many months, and continued to send experts, build hospitals, import supplies, set up ways to treat patients and train other international organizations when they stepped in to help.

"This year's Laureates have opened up new frontiers into genetic processes essential to all life; developed novel cancer therapies that unleash the immune system; and worked with great dedication to contain a devastating Ebola epidemic," Claire Pomeroy, president of the Lasker Foundation, said in a statement. "They remind us all that investing in biological sciences and medical research is crucial for our future."


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