The Laskers are among the most prestigious medical research awards in the world and among the oldest in the United States. Since they were first presented in 1944, 49 winners have gone on to win Nobel Prizes. Jordan Gutterman of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, executive vice president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, and director of the awards program since earlier this year, attributes the prestige of the awards to their longevity and to the "extraordinary quality" of the awardees. "The history of medicine since World War II is really reflected in these awards," he says.

The Lasker Foundation was established in 1944 by Albert Lasker, the late owner of the Lord & Thomas advertising agency, and his wife, Mary. Alice Fordyce, Mary Lasker's sister and Gutterman's predecessor for several decades, announced the suspension of the awards last year, citing a need to review the foundation's...

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