2008 Lasker Awards Announced | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: September 16, 2008

2008 Lasker Awards Announced

Winners work in microRNA, statins, and antibiotic resistance
Department: ACS News
Ambros
Credit: Lasker Foundation
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Ambros
Credit: Lasker Foundation
Baulcombe
Credit: Lasker Foundation
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Baulcombe
Credit: Lasker Foundation
Ruvkun
Credit: Lasker Foundation
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Ruvkun
Credit: Lasker Foundation
Endo
Credit: Lasker Foundation
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Endo
Credit: Lasker Foundation
Falkow
Credit: Lasker Foundation
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Falkow
Credit: Lasker Foundation

Five international scientists will receive the 2008 Lasker Awards, given by the Albert & Mary Lasker Foundation, at a ceremony on Sept. 26 in New York City.

Each award carries a $300,000 honorarium, shared equally among the recipients of each award, and an inscribed statuette of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. In the past two decades, 27 Lasker Award recipients have subsequently received a Nobel Prize.

Victor R. Ambros, 54, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in Worcester; David C. Baulcombe, 56, at the University of Cambridge; and Gary B. Ruvkun, 56, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, will share the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for their roles in the discovery of microRNAs, which are small RNA molecules that regulate gene function. Initially discovered in worms, microRNAs have subsequently been found in many other types of organisms. These molecules revealed an unanticipated role for RNA that is being explored for therapeutic applications.

The Lasker-DeBakey Award for Clinical Medical Research honors Akira Endo, 74, of Biopharm Research Laboratories, in Tokyo, for the discovery of mevastatin, also called compactin, the first compound in the class of drugs known as statins. Statins reduce the levels of "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) in blood without affecting the levels of "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein). Endo showed in 1979 that mevastatin lowers blood cholesterol in dogs and monkeys. Because of side effects, mevastatin has never been used clinically, but its discovery helped lead to safer cholesterol-control agents.

Stanley Falkow, 74, a microbiologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, will receive the biennial Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science. The lifetime achievement award honors his contributions to the understanding of disease-causing microbes, particularly in the area of antibiotic resistance.

 
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