NEW YORK – Two scientists who first identified stem cells and two others who did pioneering work in DNA research have won prestigious medical awards.
The $50,000 prizes from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation will be presented Friday in New York.
The prize for basic medical research will be shared by Ernest McCulloch and James Till of the Ontario Cancer Institute and the University of Toronto for their pioneering identification of a stem cell. Stem cells can give rise to specialized cell types, and scientists are studying them in hopes of creating tissue to treat diseases like diabetes and Parkinson’s.
The Lasker prize for clinical medical research will be shared by two scientists from the United Kingdom, Sir Alec Jeffreys of the University of Leicester and Sir Edwin Southern of Oxford University.
Jeffreys discovered in 1984 that individuals’ DNA differed in particular sites, where the chemical sequence that makes up the genetic code exhibited variable numbers of repeats. Southern, in the mid-1970s, devised a now-standard lab technique that allows scientists to detect specific bits of genetic code within an organism’s overall DNA.