ASBMB members 
win Lasker awards

Published September 13 2016

Rice Bartenschlager Semenza Alberts
Rice Bartenschlager Semenza Alberts

On Monday, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced the recipients of the 2016 Lasker Awards. This year’s awards recognize six researchers who made outstanding contributions to physiology and virology, as well as one scientist who helped pioneer the fields of DNA replication and science education. Among the recipients for the awards were four members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

ASBMB members Charles M. Rice of Rockefeller University and Ralf F. W. Bartenschlager of Heidelberg University received with The Lasker–DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for growing the hepatitis C virus in cultured cells. Michael K. Sofia of Arbutus Biopharma shared the prize with Rice and Bartenschlager for utilizing this system to test and invent candidate drugs, which culminated in the development of the antihepatitis-C drug Sovaldi.

Gregg L. Semenza of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, an ASBMB member, was one of the recipients of the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. Semenza won the award along with William G. Kaelin Jr. of Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and Peter J. Ratcliffe from the University of Oxford and Francis Crick Institute. The three physician-scientists received the award for their role in discovering the pathway that cells in humans and animals use to adapt to and sense changes in oxygen availability. Kaelin is organizing a morning session about the pathway at ASBMB’s annual meeting in April in Chicago.

ASBMB member Bruce M. Alberts at the University of California, San Francisco, received the Lasker–Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science. In addition to devising tools for understanding the mechanisms cells use to copy DNA, Alberts has used his clout as a scientist and a president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to improve science education.

John Arnst John Arnst is ASBMB Today’s science writer.