The 2015 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award was given to Evelyn M. Witkin of Rutgers University and Stephen J. Elledge of Brigham and Women's Hospital, for research that illuminated the fundamentals of the DNA-damage response — a mechanism that protects the genome of all living organisms. The 2015 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award went to James P. Allison of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, for the discovery and development of a monoclonal antibody therapy that unleashes the immune system to combat cancer. And the 2015 Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award was presented to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, for bold leadership in responding to the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa and for its sustained and effective frontline responses to health emergencies around the globe.
Now in their seventieth year, 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.
"The 2015 Lasker winners had bold ideas and pursued novel questions that they tested through fearless experimentation," said Joseph L. Goldstein, chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and chair of the Lasker Medical Research Awards jury. "Witkin and Elledge worked out the ways in which cells detect DNA damage and then execute a response program that helps to ensure cell survival under stress. Allison found a way to remove the brakes that stop T cells from fighting tumor cells — a discovery that opens brand new and very effective ways to treat cancer."