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HEALTH REPORT - October 9, 2002: Lasker Awards for Medical Research - 2002-10-08

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

The Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards were presented last month. The awards honor scientists and doctors whose work has improved the understanding, prevention, treatment and cure of many dangerous diseases.

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Elias Zerhouni, spoke at the awards ceremony in New York City. He spoke about the social importance of medical research at a time of rising health costs in the United States.

The Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research was given to James Rothman of the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York and Randy Schekman of the University of California at Berkeley.

Their discoveries concerned the movement of proteins from one part of a cell to another part. Scientists say their work provided new and needed information about the structure of a cell.

Experts say their findings increase the understanding of diseases caused by genetic changes and the production of proteins, hormones and chemicals.

The Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research went to Willem Kolff of the University of Utah School of Medicine and Belding Scribner of the University of Washington School of Medicine. They developed a man-made or artificial kidney that permits millions of people around the world to live with kidney failure. The invention is the only man-made device that can permanently replace a necessary body organ.

The Special Achievement in Medical Research Award went to James Darnell of Rockefeller University in New York. Doctor Darnell was honored for his forty-five years of work in genetics. The award committee said Doctor Darnell has expanded two areas of biology and increased the understanding of the genetic material R-N-A. He was also recognized for teaching and supporting the work of more than one-hundred-twenty-five scientists.

The Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards have been presented each year since nineteen-forty-six. They were started by Albert and Mary Lasker.

Many medical experts consider the Lasker Awards to be the American Nobel Prizes. Sixty-five Lasker Award winners have later received the Nobel Prize. In the past ten years, every scientist who has won a Nobel Prize had earlier received a Lasker Award in Medical Research.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Nancy Steinbach.