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Awards Extravaganza, Plus Nobel Predictions

The New York Times reports on the winners of this year's Lasker Awards, which are worth $250,000 each and will be presented October 1 by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. The Jackson Laboratory's Douglas Coleman and Rockefeller University's Jeffrey Friedman are sharing the Lasker prize for basic research. Both are being honored for their discovery of the hormone leptin. Genentech's Napoleone Ferrara has won the clinical research award for "discovering a protein called VEGF in 1989 and using it to develop a treatment that significantly improves sight for people with a devastating type of age-related macular degeneration," according to the Times. David Weatherall, a retired geneticist from the University of Oxford, is being honored with a Lasker award for special achievement in medical research "for 50 years of 'international statesmanship in biomedical science,' including discoveries into the genetic blood disorder thalassemia," according to Nature Medicine's Spoonful of Medicine blog. Nature Medicine notes that the Lasker prizes "often hint at future Nobel Prize recipients."

Scientific American's Observations blog has published Thomson Reuters' short list of Nobel Prize predictions. While blogger John Matson points out that the Reuters list "has matched up only occasionally with the actual prize recipients in recent years," Daily Scan can't help but notice that Lasker winners Coleman and Friedman are predicted to share the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their leptin work. Also on Reuters' short list for physiology or medicine? The Ontario Cancer Institute's Ernest McCulloch and James Till and Shinya Yamanaka at the University of California, San Francisco, for their pioneering work with induced pluripotent stem cells, and Rockefeller University's Ralph Steinman for "the discovery of dendritic cells," according to Observations.

In other award news, National Institute of General Medical Sciences director Jeremy Berg was honored by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Arlington, Va., on September 20 for his "dedication to public service in support of biomedical science," according to the National Institutes of Health. Berg received ASBMB's 2011 Howard K. Schachman Public Service Award.

Also on September 20, the American Society of Human Genetics named Rockefeller University's Jurg Ott the recipient of the 2010 William Allan Award. Ott is being honored for his "work as a pioneer in developing the statistical basis and advancing research on linkage analysis and complex disease in humans."

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.