Top U.S. Science Prize Recognizes NIGMS-Funded Basic Research


Statement from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences
September 11, 2012

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences congratulates those honored with 2012 Lasker Awards in recognition of their major contributions to understanding and treating, curing or preventing disease. Among the recipients are five scientists whose groundbreaking research has been supported by NIGMS:

  • Michael Sheetz, Ph.D., Columbia University; James Spudich, Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine; and Ronald Vale, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco, share the 2012 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. They are honored for their discoveries that have illuminated understanding of cytoskeletal motor proteins and how they move molecular cargo within cells; separate chromosomes during cell division; and enable cell movement, especially during early development. Not surprisingly, these critical cellular components are associated with a number of human diseases, including cardiac problems, neurological disorders and cancer.
  • Donald D. Brown, M.D., Carnegie Institution for Science; and Tom Maniatis, Ph.D., Columbia University, share the 2012 Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science for their discoveries concerning the nature of genes as well as for their exceptional leadership and citizenship in biomedicine.

"The advances made by these scientists, who each began their studies more than 30 years ago, demonstrate the power of innovative approaches and perseverance to reveal complicated processes essential to life," said Judith H. Greenberg, Ph.D., NIGMS acting director. "More generally, they also point to the value in supporting basic biomedical research, which NIGMS has now championed for 50 years."

Since the first Lasker Award was presented in 1946, 81 recipients have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes for their scientific accomplishments.

More information on the 2012 Lasker Awards is available on the Foundation's Web site at Link to external Web site.

To arrange an interview with NIGMS acting director Judith H. Greenberg, Ph.D., contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301.

NIGMS, which marks its 50th anniversary in 2012, is a part of NIH that supports basic research to increase our understanding of life processes and lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. For more information on the Institute's research and training programs, see

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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