Sir David Weatherall Receives Lasker Award

September 21, 2010 – Sir David Weatherall, who is recognized as one of the leading international experts on thalassemia, was announced today as one of four recipients of the prestigious 2010 Lasker Awards, presented by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.

Sir David
Sir David was a keynote speaker at the CAF-sponsored 9th Cooley’s Anemia Symposium. Click here to read an interview conducted at that Symposium.

The Lasker Foundation notes that the recipients, who in addition to Sir David include Douglas Coleman, Jeffrey M. Friedman and Napoleone Ferrara, “honor four visionaries whose insight and perseverance have led to dramatic advances that will prevent disease and prolong life.”

David Weatherall, the Regius Professor of Medicine Emeritus and retired Honorary Director of the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford, will receive the 2010 Lasker~Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Research for “five decades of statesmanship in biomedical sciences exemplified by his discoveries concerning genetic diseases of the blood and for leadership in improving clinical care throughout the world benefiting children afflicted with the genetic blood disorder thalassemia. Weatherall made global health a priority long before it was in vogue, and inspired generations of young physicians and researchers to apply the power of molecular medicine to the treatment of their patients.”

The Lasker Foundation’s release also states that Weatherall began exploring thalassemia in the 1950s and by the 1970s had unraveled the biochemical underpinnings of the disease and provided one of the first descriptions of gene deletion causing a human disease. Applying his findings to the treatment of patients, he developed diagnostic tests and therapies for thalassemic children and established a robust network of clinical and research collaborations with workers in developing countries to manage and study the disease. In 1989, Weatherall established Oxford University’s Institute of Molecular Medicine, which was renamed in his honor upon his retirement in 2000.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be given this award,” said Sir David in an interview posted September 21, 2010 on the BBC News website. “It’s both a surprise and a delight to have my work and my career recognized in this way. It’s also a tribute to all my colleagues – researchers, doctors and healthcare professionals – who have contributed so much to this work.”

The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation fosters the prevention and treatment of disease and disabilities by honoring excellence in basic and clinical science, by educating the public, and by advocating for support of medical research. Recipients of the Lasker Medical Research Awards are selected by a distinguished international jury chaired by Joseph L. Goldstein, recipient of the 1985 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research and the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Lasker Laureates receive a citation highlighting their achievements and an inscribed statuette of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Lasker Foundation’s traditional symbol representing humanity’s victory over disease, disability, and death. Seventy-nine Lasker Laureates have received the Nobel Prize, including 30 in the last two decades.

The Lasker Awards, which carry an honorarium of $250,000 for each category, will be presented at a ceremony on Friday, October 1, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.

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