The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation has announced the winners of the 2014 Lasker Awards.
The 2014 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award was given to Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University and Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco for their discoveries with respect to the unfolded protein response, an intracellular quality control system that detects harmful misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum and signals the nucleus to carry out corrective measures. The 2014 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award went to Mahlon R. DeLong of the Emory University School of Medicine and Alim Louis Benabid of Joseph Fourier University for their work in developing deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus, a surgical technique that reduces tremors and restores motor function in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease. And the 2014 Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science was presented to Mary-Claire King of the University of Washington for her contributions to medical science and human rights through her discovery of the role of the BRCA1 gene locus in hereditary breast cancer and her use of DNA strategies to reunite missing persons or their remains with their families.
Established in 1945, the Lasker Awards recognize the contributions of scientists, physicians, and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of human disease. Considered among the most prestigious honors in medical science, the awards carry an honorarium of $250,000 in each category.
"This year's Lasker winners have the uncanny ability to spot the next big thing in their field," said Joseph L. Goldstein, chair of the Lasker Medical Research Awards jury. "Walter and Mori zeroed in on the molecular machinery that senses excessive unfolded proteins, and they exposed the process by which cells correct that problem; DeLong pinpointed a region of the brain that plays a central role in Parkinson's disease, and Benabid applied a novel technique to that region and alleviated symptoms; and King demonstrated that certain women with early onset breast cancer owe their disease to a harmful version of a particular gene, BRCA1."