For inventing a completely new way to strike cancer by unlocking a shackled immune system attack, Jim Allison (photo), Ph.D., Chair of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been awarded the nation’s highest honor for clinical medical research. Dr. Allison was named the 2015 winner of the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. The Lasker awards, in their 70th year, honor major achievements in basic science, clinical research, and public service around the world. Dr. Allison was presented with the prestigious award at the 2015 Lasker Awards ceremony held on September 18 in New York City. Each Lasker Award includes an honorarium of $250,000. “I’m honored and grateful to receive the Lasker Award. As a basic scientist, I was pleasantly surprised, really kind of stunned, to receive the clinical award,” Dr. Allison said. “This award is also important recognition of the early success of cancer immunotherapy and its great potential to extend survival of cancer patients for decades and ultimately to cure some types of cancer.” “Jim Allison found a way to remove the brakes that stop T cells from fighting tumor cells – a discovery that opens brand new and very effective ways to treat cancer,” said Joseph Goldstein, M.D., Chair of the Lasker Medical Research Awards Jury, Nobel Laureate, and Chair of Molecular Genetics at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Dr. Allison’s research into the biology of T cells, white blood cells that serve as the immune system’s customized guided weapons, led him to develop an antibody that blocks an off switch on these cells, unleashing an immune response against cancer.
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