March 17, 2011

Three Stem Cell Researchers Given Medical Award

The annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research award has been given to three stem cell researchers for their work in human stem cells.

The winners are Elaine Fuchs of Rockefeller University in New York City, James A. Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan.

The researchers will share $500,000, which is the largest award in medicine and science in the U.S.

Morris "Marty" Silverman first established the prize in 2000.

James Barba, president and CEO of the medical center, said in a statement that their discoveries move medical researchers closer to new treatments for diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's, spinal cord injury and cancer.

"Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cancer, spinal cord injury.  The solutions to these debilitating diseases and many, many others that plague humans might very well be found through the science of stem cells," Barba said in a statement.

"Their discoveries have moved us closer to realizing the regenerative and potentially healing properties of stem cells. Their work has been widely publicized within the scientific stem cell community, and lies as a basis for new discoveries being made every day. We commend these three pioneers and honor them for their extraordinary contributions."

Yamanaka and Thomson are both credited with discovering how to genetically reprogram adult human cells back to an embryonic state. 

This discovery was reported as a major scientific breakthrough in 2007.

Robert Golden, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a press release that "Dr. Thomson's work over the last decade has been integral to establishing human ES cells and human iPS cells as standard model systems for understanding the development and function of the human body both in terms of its composite systems and as an integrated whole."

According to a press release, Fuchs' research has been credited with developing reverse genetics techniques that have made stem cell and genetic research easier for all scientists.


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