President George Bush recognized Mary Lasker as “a veritable beacon” of his proverbial thousand points of light on April 21, when he presented her with the Congressional Gold Medal for her contribu tions to medical research and public service.

Lasker and her husband, the late Albert Lasker, owner of the renowned Lord and Thomas advertising agency, led the effort to increase funding for cancer research in the 1940s. They spearheaded a public-awareness campaign on behalf of the group that was eventually to be reorganized as the American Cancer Society. Later, they encouraged the formation of a national, government sponsored research effort for the medical sciences, an effort that expanded the scope and budget of the National Cancer Institute and resulted in the creation of new institutes within the National Institutes of Health. In 1942, the Laskers established the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation to encourage medical research and public...

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