Two Columbia Professors Win Lasker Foundation Awards for Their Work in Biological Sciences

September 09, 2012

Two Columbia professors have won prestigious Lasker Foundation Awards for their work in biological sciences.

Tom Maniatis, the Isidore S. Edelman Professor of Biochemistry and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center, will receive the 2012 Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science. Maniatis is known for both his research on the mechanisms of gene regulation and his Molecular Cloning Manual. The award, which he will share with the Carnegie Institution’s Donald Brown, is given to scientists for exceptional leadership and citizenship in biomedical science.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Lasker Special Achievement Award in Medical Science,” said Maniatis. “I became a scientist because of the excitement of making discoveries, but to see the impact of these discoveries on the treatment of human disease has been particularly gratifying.”

On the Morningside campus, Michael Sheetz, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Biological Sciences, won the Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for his part in discoveries concerning cytoskeletal motor proteins, machines that move cargos within cells, contract muscles, and enable cell movements. The basic research award is given to those scientists whose techniques or concepts to the “elimination of major causes of disability and death,” according to the Lasker Foundation.

He won it with two other scientists, Stanford University’s James Spudich and Ronald Vale of the University of California, San Francisco, with whom he’s been working for many years. “I am deeply honored to receive the Lasker with friends and wish to thank the many people in my lab and our collaborators who contributed so much to the overall effort,” said Sheetz.

The Lasker Awards, which carry an honorarium of $250,000 for each category, will be presented at a ceremony on Friday, September 21, in New York City. Since the inception of the Lasker Awards in 1945, 81 Lasker laureates have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, 29 in the last two decades.