The Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Awards are certainly prestigious; indeed, they are widely regarded as comparable to the Nobel Prize. Since the Lasker awards were established in 1946, 48 winners have later been awarded Nobels, including J. Michael Bishop and Harold E. Varmus, University of California, San Francisco, who share this year’s prize in medicine for their breakthrough research on oncogenes. I take pride, incidentally, in our forecast of their recognition in the October 2 issue of The Scientist (D. Pendlebury, “The 1989 Nobel Prize In Medicine: 20 Who Deserve It,” page 14).

The 1989 Lasker award was presented to Etienne-Emile Baulieu, University of Paris-Sud, for his research on steroid hormones, which has led to the development of RU486, an oral medication that terminates pregnancy.

By honoring Baulieu’s work, the Lasker jury has made a strong statement affirming the value of contraceptive research in general and RU486 in particular....

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