The winners of this year's Lasker Awards contributed to a better understanding of the immune system and to the development of Herceptin, according to an announcement from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.
The foundation gives out three awards — Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and the Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award — each of which comes with a $250,000 honorarium.
Emory University's Max Cooper and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research's Jacques Miller have won the basic biomedical research award for their work to understand the adaptive immune system. Miller tells the Sydney Morning Herald that when he presented his findings — namely that the thymus produced white blood cells that he dubbed T cells and that these cells differed from B cells — other researchers were skeptical. Cooper later found that mammals produce B cells in their bone marrow.
The clinical award, meanwhile, is going to Michael Shepard and Axel Ullrich, who were at Genentech, and the University of California, Los Angeles' Dennis Slamon for their work that lead to the development of Herceptin for Her2-positive breast cancer. This, the Lasker Foundation notes, was one of the first targeted therapies.
Lastly, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has won the public service award for providing access to childhood vaccines to millions around the world.