Lasker Awards, sometimes referred to as 'America's Nobels', have been given out since 1945. The awards are given out annually to recognize major contributions to medical science. Three US researchers and the NGO Doctors Without Borders have won the prestigious Lasker Awards.
The awardees will receive a $250,000 prize that will be presented at a ceremony in New York on September 18, 2015. Alfred Sommer, chair of the Lasker Foundation's Public Service Award jury, said, "Doctors without Borders was honored for showing remarkable leadership in taking on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa while others sat on the sidelines. The group not only worked on the ground to contain the outbreak but urged international governments to take this outbreak seriously."
Geneticist Evelyn Witkin, 94, of Rutgers University, and Stephen Elledge, 59, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, will receive honors for their work laying the foundation of our understanding of how cells detect and repair damage to their DNA.
University of Texas immunologist James Allison, 67, will be receive the award for developing new cancer therapies that rely on the body's own immune system to fight tumors. These cancer therapies have been credited with extending the lives of hundreds of patients with metastatic melanoma, a form of cancer that without that treatment kills half of patients within a year.
Lasker Foundation president Claire Pomeroy said, "This year's Laureates have opened up new frontiers into genetic processes essential to all life; developed novel cancer therapies that unleash the immune system; and worked with great dedication to contain a devastating Ebola epidemic. They remind us all that investing in biological sciences and medical research is crucial for our future."