A Lasker Award for CC Workers

In September the Clinical Center was named the 2011 recipient of the Lasker–Bloomberg Public Service Award from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, an organization that has recognized outstanding advances in medical research each year since 1945.

The award description recognizes the CC for spearheading major advances in a wide array of medical arenas, establishing an example for academic institutions across the country, and training thousands of investigators, many of whom now lead academic and research institutions across the world.

The award also acknowledges the CC’s and the NIH’s rich history of medical discovery through clinical research since the hospital opened in 1953. Since then, nearly half a million volunteers have participated in clinical research at the CC,and its mission has remained consistent—providing exceptional clinical care for research volunteers, an environment for innovative bench-to-bedside clinical research, and training for clinical researchers.

The Clinical Center’s 58-year research portfolio has medical milestones including the development of chemotherapy for cancer; the first use of an immunotoxin to treat a malignancy (hairy cell leukemia); identification of the genes that cause kidney cancer, leading to the development of six new, targeted treatments for advanced kidney cancer; the demonstration that lithium helps depression; the first gene therapy; the first treatment of AIDS (with AZT); and the development of tests to detect AIDS and human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis viruses in blood, which led to a safer blood supply.

“The Clinical Center’s work has always depended on patients and healthy individuals from around the world who volunteer for clinical research here,” said CC Director John Gallin. “Our patients include those with rare diseases, common disorders, and undiagnosed conditions. There are about 1,500 clinical research studies under way today, and the patients and healthy volunteers who participate in them are true partners in research.”

Advancements through clinical research also depend on having a cadre of investigators trained to do it, Gallin added. “Students in the health sciences and clinicians come here to learn how to conduct clinical research by working closely with NIH investigators. Since 1995, more than 22,000 students around the world have participated in the Clinical Center’s clinical research training curriculum offered through distance-learning programs.”

The original hospital, the Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center, opened in 1953. A new research hospital, the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center, opened in 2004. Most of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers conduct clinical research at the Clinical Center through their programs on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. NIH plans to open the facility for use by external researchers, based on the 2010 recommendations from the Scientific Management Review Board, established under the NIH Reform Act of 2006, which will allow the Clinical Center to facilitate clinical research on a broader scale.

To learn about the 30 other NIH Lasker winners, visit http://irp.nih.gov/about-us/honors/lasker-award. To see their photos, stroll through the hallway connecting the old and new sections of Building 10.