The NIH Director
Comments on the 2009 Lasker Awards
"On behalf of the National Institutes of Health, I want to congratulate all of the winners of the prestigious Lasker Awards for 2009. The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation has for 64 years rewarded visionaries in medical research. The focus of these awards on the discoveries that will have the most critical impact upon medicine makes the Laskers highly regarded. In the past two decades, 28 Lasker winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. We are delighted to see that two NIH grantees, Brian Druker and Charles Sawyers, will share the 2009 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Research Award with Nicholas B. Lydon. These three are recognized for transforming chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) from a fatal cancer to a manageable condition associated with long survival. Their dramatic success in the development of imatinib, designed to precisely target leukemia cells, provides the best current example of how this new designer drug approach can revolutionize cancer therapy. We also sincerely congratulate Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, an investigator on a team with NIH support, who shares the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (with John Gurdon) for breakthrough research that has successfully reprogrammed fully differentiated mouse and human skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells that can specialize into many fetal and adult types of cells. We are pleased to have supported the work of these three scientists and are delighted that their innovation has won this incomparable recognition."
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health