All five winners of the 2006 Albert Lasker Medical
Research Awards-considered the nation's most distinguished honor for outstanding contributions to basic and clinical medical research-are NIH grantees.
The Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research went to Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn of the University
of California, San Francisco, Dr. Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Dr. Jack Szostak of Harvard Medical School, who predicted and discovered
telomerase. This enzyme synthesizes the ends of chromosomes, protecting them and maintaining the integrity of the genome. Its discovery has reinvigorated studies of cancer and aging.
The Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research went to Dr. Aaron Beck of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for developing cognitive therapy, which has "transformed the understanding and treatment of many psychiatric
conditions," according to his citation.
Dr. Joseph Gall of the Carnegie Institution's department of embryology won the Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science.
He was cited for a distinguished 57-year career as a founder of modern cell biology, including
invention of in situ hybridization, a technique for pinpointing single genes in genomes containing
"NIH is proud to have supported the work of these five outstanding researchers who are being honored for their contributions to our understanding of cell biology, cognitive therapy,
and telomere and telomerase research," said NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni.