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British scientists Edwin Southern and Alec Jeffreys were honored during the weekend for their clinical research that award sponsors say dramatically changed the fields of human genetics and forensic science.
Southern, professor of biochemistry at the University of Oxford, and Jeffreys, genetics research professor at the University of Leicester, are the winners of the 2005 Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research. The awards, which were announced Sunday in New York, have been called the American equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Since the Lasker Awards' 1946 debut, more than 65 of its recipients have gone on to win the Nobel.
Southern and Jeffreys revolutionized the two fields with a technique known as Southern blotting, which enables the detection of a single gene in a complex genome, which in turn enables the rapid sequencing of genomes. Southern blotting supported Southern and Jeffreys' development of genetic fingerprinting.
Their breakthroughs have yielded significant progress in the solving of crimes, the settlement of paternity and immigrant disputes and the understanding of inherited diseases, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation says.
Other 2005 Lasker winners:
*Basic medical research: Ernest McCulloch and James Till, Ontario Cancer Institute, for their discovery of the first stem cell. Their research enabled current work on adult and embryonic stem cells and moved the study of blood cell specialization from observational science to a quantitative experimental discipline.
*Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service: Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, for starting the foundation dedicated to curing breast cancer and raising awareness.
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