The 2017 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award was given to Michael N. Hall (Biozentrum, University of Basel), who in the 1990s discovered a linchpin of normal cell physiology when he found that the target of rapamycin (TOR) protein controls cell growth in the body by activating and deactivating different signaling pathways. Uncontrolled cell growth is a significant factor in many illnesses, and disruption of the TOR network contributes to the development of diabetes, cancer, and a range of other age-related disorders.
"I am extraordinarily pleased and deeply grateful that the Lasker Foundation has honored our fundamental research with this award," said Hall. "I hope that our work will pave the way for new scientific discoveries and allow the development of effective cancer therapies."
The 2017 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award recognizes two scientists whose technological advances enabled the development of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, which prevent cervical cancer and other tumors. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Douglas R. Lowy and John T. Schiller (both from the National Cancer Institute) devised a blueprint for several safe and effective vaccines that promised to slash the incidence of cervical cancer and mortality, the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide, as well as other disorders that arise from HPVs. According to the foundation, more than five hundred thousand new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed annually, and each year, more than a quarter of a million women die from the malignancy.
And the 2017 Lasker~Bloomberg Public Service Award honors Planned Parenthood for its efforts, over more than a century, to provide essential health services and reproductive care to millions of women. Approximately one in five women in the U.S. has received assistance from the organization at some point during their lives, and without the services it provides, many women wouldn't have access to affordable, quality health care. In 2015, the organization's nearly six hundred and fifty U.S. healthcare centers served 2.4 million men and women.