11 September 2015

Lasker Award – 2015

The winners of the Lasker Prize for 2015 have been named. It was awarded to three scientists for research on DNA self-repair and cancer therapy, as well as a team of Doctors Without Borders for fighting the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. The award, which is often regarded as the American equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, is reported by Science News (Lasker prizes recognize Ebola response, DNA damage, and cancer research).

The prize for research in basic medicine was awarded to Evelyn Witkin (94 years old) from Rutgers University and Stephen Elledge (59 years old) from Brigham and Women's Hospital (a clinic in Boston). Vitkin discovered genes in bacteria that are activated when DNA is damaged by ultraviolet radiation, and her colleague Elledge showed that yeast begins to multiply faster when their DNA is damaged.

For clinical research, the award was given to James Ellison (67 years old) from the University of Texas, who studied new and promising techniques for the treatment of oncological diseases. Instead of focusing on a single tumor, Elledge decided to investigate the CTLA-4 protein, which inhibits the immune system's ability to attack tumor cells. The discovery of the scientist can help in the treatment of cancer and has already saved the lives of thousands of melanoma patients.

Stephen Elledge, James Allison, and Evelyn Witkin

The award in the field of public health was received by the international organization Doctors Without Borders for the fight against the Ebola virus in West Africa. Activists have arranged the delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims and their families, as well as protective equipment, in particular degassing tools, which helped to stop the spread of fever.

The Lasker Prize has been awarded annually since 1946. Its founder was an American businessman and philanthropist Albert Lasker. The amount of each of the three awards (in the categories of fundamental medicine, clinical medicine and public health) is 250 thousand dollars. More than 30 winners of this award have also won the Nobel Prize over the past two decades.

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