Summary

HHMI Investigator Stephen Elledge of Brigham and Women's Hospital shares the 2015 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award with Evelyn Witkin of Rutgers University.

Highlights

  • The Lasker Awards honor visionaries whose insight and perseverance have led to major research advances.
  • Stephen Elledge and Evelyn Witkin are being honored for discoveries concerning the DNA-damage response.
  • The DNA-damage response is a fundamental mechanism that protects the genomes of all living organisms.

The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced today that Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator Stephen Elledge of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Evelyn Witkin of Rutgers University will share the 2015 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award.

The Lasker Awards -- considered among the most respected science prizes in the world -- honor visionaries whose insight and perseverance have led to dramatic advances that will prevent disease and prolong life.

Elledge and Witkin are being honored for discoveries concerning the DNA-damage response  -- a fundamental mechanism that protects the genomes of all living organisms. According to the announcement from the Lasker Foundation, Witkin established the existence of the DNA-damage response and basic features in bacteria, and Elledge uncovered its molecular pathway in more complex organisms. The details of the two systems differ dramatically, yet they share an overarching principle. Both coordinate the activity of a large number of genes whose products shield creatures from potentially lethal harm.

The Foundation also recognized HHMI alumni investigator James Allison with the 2015 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Allison, who is now at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discovered and developed a monoclonal antibody therapy that unleashes the immune system to combat cancer. Allison was an HHMI investigator from 2004-2012.

The awards, which carry an honorarium of $250,000 for each category, will be presented at a ceremony on September 18 in New York City. Including Elledge, 16 current HHMI investigators have won Lasker Awards, the nation's most distinguished honor for outstanding contributions to basic and clinical medical research.

Elledge has been an HHMI investigator since 1993. He is interested in understanding cell cycle control, the cellular response to DNA damage and how the proteome is remodeled by ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. He also develops genetic technologies to aid in gene and drug discovery. He developed new methods to identify targets of autoimmunity. Recently he has applied genetic and computational strategies to understand how aneuploidy drives tumorigenesis and how genetics can uncover vulnerabilities in cancer cells.

Elledge’s bio is available on the HHMI web site.

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For More Information

Jim Keeley 301.215.8858 keeleyj@hhmi.org