2017 Lasker Awards for Basic and Clinical Medical Research and Public Service Announced

21:50 EDT 5 Sep 2017 | PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation today announced the winners of the 2017 Lasker Awards:  Michael N. Hall for basic medical research; Douglas R. Lowy and John T. Schiller for clinical research; and Planned Parenthood for public service. The 2017 Lasker Awards, which carry an honorarium of $250,000 for each category, will be presented on Friday, September 15, in New York City.

"This year's honorees have provided insights into fundamental aspects of biology and have saved or improved millions of lives," said Claire Pomeroy, President of the Lasker Foundation. "The decades-long work of this year's Lasker Medical Research Awardees illustrates how critical it is to provide scientists with robust funding so they can pursue rigorous research. The sustained, century-long commitment of our Public Service winner to women's health underscores how vital public and private support is to continuing Planned Parenthood's mission."

"This year's Lasker Medical Research Awards illustrate the power of biomedical investigation to advance human health whether scientists probe basic questions that reveal unforeseen truths or pursue goal-directed projects," said Joseph L. Goldstein, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Chair of the Lasker Medical Research Awards Jury.  "Michael Hall showed that TOR proteins control cell growth in response to nutrients and growth factors and thus established that growth is a highly regulated process that is independent of the cell division cycle.  Douglas Lowy and John Schiller discovered that a single protein from the capsule of papillomaviruses can self-assemble into virus-like particles, paving the way for HPV vaccines that prevent cervical and other cancers."

"Our 2017 Public Service honoree has been a trusted health resource for families for more than a century," said Alfred Sommer, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Chair of the Public Service Award Jury. "More than a century ago, a group of women began providing fact-based counseling about family planning in an era when reliable information was scarce.  Since then, Planned Parenthood's services have expanded to include essential health and reproductive care and advice for women both in the U.S. and internationally."

The 2017 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award:Michael N. Hall for discoveries concerning the nutrient-activated TOR proteins and their central role in the metabolic control of cell growth 

The 2017 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award honors Michael N. Hall, 64, Biozentrum, University of Basel, who discovered the nutrient-activated TOR proteins and their central role in the metabolic control of cell growth.

Disruption of the TOR network contributes to numerous human illnesses, including diabetes and cancer, and has been implicated in a wide range of age-related disorders.

By showing that the TOR system adjusts cell size in response to the availability of raw materials, Hall revealed an unanticipated linchpin of normal cell physiology. Prior to these discoveries, the research community thought of cell growth as a passively regulated, spontaneous process that occurs when nutrients are available, without the help of an underlying regulatory system. These scientific breakthroughs have broadened our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that underlie growth, development, and aging.

The 2017 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award:Douglas R. Lowy and John T. Schiller for technological advances that enabled development of HPV vaccines for prevention of cervical cancer and other tumors caused by human papillomaviruses

The 2017 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award honors Douglas R. Lowy, 75, and John T. Schiller, 64, both from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their technological advances enabled the development of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, which prevent cervical cancer and other tumors.

HPV infection causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer, which is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. More than 500,000 new cervical cancers are diagnosed annually, and each year, more than 250,000 women die from the malignancy.

Lowy and Schiller's research on animal and human papillomaviruses enabled the development of a vaccine against the high-risk HPV16 type, which gives rise to a large percentage of HPV malignancies. They showed that the vaccine is effective in animals and conducted the first clinical trial of an HPV16 vaccine in humans, demonstrating its safety and ability to trigger a strong immune response. Two pharmaceutical companies, Merck & Co., Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), pursued Lowy and Schiller's findings to develop vaccines that combat HPV16 as well as additional HPV types. By 2015, 59 million women worldwide and 20 million in North America had received an HPV vaccine.

The 2017 Lasker~Bloomberg Public Service Award:Planned Parenthood for providing essential health services and reproductive care to millions of women for more than a century

The 2017 Lasker~Bloomberg Public Service Award honors Planned Parenthood for providing essential health services and reproductive care to millions of women for more than a century.

In addition to family planning, Planned Parenthood's services include prevention, testing, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (including provision of HPV vaccinations). The organization also screens for breast and cervical cancer, and these procedures revealed cancer or precancerous abnormalities in almost 72,000 women in 2015. Approximately 1 in 5 women in the United States have received Planned Parenthood's assistance at some point during their lives. The organization's almost 650 U.S. healthcare centers served 2.4 million women and men in 2015, including many individuals who had no other source of adequate care.  Its sex education programs reach 1.5 million people every year.

Internationally, Planned Parenthood partners with organizations in countries across Africa and Latin America to deliver reproductive health information and services to people in some of the world's most neglected regions.

About the Foundation: The Lasker Foundation seeks to increase support for biomedical research by celebrating the power of biomedical science to save and improve human lives. Through its internationally renowned Lasker Awards, educational initiatives, and public advocacy, the Foundation recognizes the most important achievements in science and public service, supports and encourages the scientific leaders of tomorrow, and raises awareness of the ever-present need for research funding. Established in 1942 by Albert and Mary Lasker, the Foundation is committed to inspiring robust and sustained support for biomedical research, fueled by Mary Lasker's call to action: "If you think research is expensive, try disease!"

About the Awards: For 72 years, the Lasker Awards, America's most prestigious biomedical research awards, have recognized the contributions of leaders who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of human disease. Recipients of the Lasker Medical Research Awards are selected by a distinguished international jury chaired by Joseph L. Goldstein, recipient of the 1985 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Eighty-seven Lasker laureates have received the Nobel Prize, including 40 in the last three decades. More details on the Lasker Award recipients, the full citations for each award category, video interviews and photos of the awardees, and additional information on the Foundation are available at Follow the Awards on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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SOURCE Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation


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