Since its beginning in 1945, the Lasker Awards has been a prestigious achievement that recognizes those who have contributed to breakthrough biological discoveries, clinical research and improvements in human health. The 2019 Lasker Awards were focused on the world of immunotherapy and each discovery was made possible with the help of animal research.
The first award is titled the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award which is given “for a fundamental discovery that opens up a new area of biomedical science.” The 2019 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award was given to Max D. Cooper, MD and Jacques Miller, AC, FAA, FRS. After 50 years of animal research with mice and chickens, Cooper and Miller are rewarded for discovering the function B and T cells have in the human body’s immune response to pathogens.
Lasker Foundation President and FBR Chair of the Board of Directors Claire Pomeroy, MD, said, “This monumental achievement provided the organizing principle of the adaptive immune system and truly launched the course of modern immunology.”
The next award is the Lasker- DeBakey Clinical Medical Award which is presented “for a major advance that improves the lives of many thousand people.” The 2019 Lasker- DeBakey Clinical Medical recipients were Michael Shepard, PhD, Dennis Slamon, MD, PhD, and Axel Ullrich, PhD for their invention of Herceptin – the first monoclonal antibody that fights against cancer. Herceptin has become a popular form of therapy for women with breast cancer. Through research with mice, rats and chickens, Herceptin was approved and made available to the public in 1998 where it has since helped over 2.3 million people.
Lastly – but not least! – is the Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award given to those who help provide “financial support for initiatives to enhance public health and/or medical research.” This year’s recipient was Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a nonprofit that provides childhood vaccines around the globe and supports research for future vaccines. Gavi has teamed up with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), to provide vaccines for viruses such as smallpox, malaria and yellow fever to children in poor countries. We have written many blog posts on the enormous impact animal research has had in discovering vaccines for all three of these viruses. Check them out here!
Congratulations to all the award recipients! And as always, a special thanks to animal research for making each new discovery possible.
– written by Nelia Dashiell
The 2019 Lasker Awards Winners’ Videos-
- B and T cells—the organizing principle of the adaptive immune system
- Herceptin—a targeted antibody therapy for breast cancer
- Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance: The greatest secret in public health
Additional Reading –
- Zika Virus Vaccine Possible with Help of Primate Research
- Animal Research and the Fight Against Malaria
- No Monkey Around with an HIV Vaccine