Six biologists will each take home $10,000 and a coveted Albert Lasker Medical Research Award for their work on cell division and the genetic basis of cancer. The prizes, announced today, will be handed out in a ceremony on Friday in New York City.
Yoshio Masui, now a professor emeritus of zoology at the University of Toronto, won a basic research award for his discovery in 1971 of maturation promoting factor, a protein that stimulates cell division in frog eggs. Lee Hartwell, director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and Paul Nurse, director-general of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, were also lauded for identifying a series of genes that help regulate cell division in yeast and other species.
The winners of the clinical award, Alfred Knudson Jr., former president of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Peter Nowell of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and Janet Rowley of the University of Chicago Medical Center, examined how genetic abnormalities may trigger cancer. Nowell and Rowley proved that leukemia could be caused by faulty genes. Knudson showed that development of certain childhood cancers requires mutations in both copies of the genes at fault, a finding that led to the idea of tumor suppressor genes, currently one of the hottest topics in cancer research.
And finally, former Science editor-in-chief Daniel Koshland will receive a separate Lasker award for lifetime achievement in medical research. Koshland, currently a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, was honored for his scientific work on cell signaling and enzyme regulation, as well as his efforts to encourage interdisciplinary biology studies at Berkeley and his success at improving the quality of Science.