Basic Medical Research Award
In accepting the 2004 Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research, I wish to express my deep gratitude to the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, and to its Chairman (Mr. James W. Fordyce) and President (Dr. Neen Hunt) for this prestigious award and the recognition that it conveys.
I am particularly happy and thankful to the Albert Lasker Medical Awards Jury and to Dr. Joe Goldstein, its chairman, because this year's Award that I share with Elwood Jensen and Ron Evans nicely illustrates how science can contribute to forge friendships in an atmosphere of fruitful competition.
It is a great honor and privilege to be a recipient of this Award, in a country which has given such a high priority to the development of higher education, science and medicine. I accept it as the representative of the many members of my laboratory, who have worked and collaborated with me over the last 40 years. Our achievements are the fruit of their enthusiasm and devotion to science.
I have attempted, throughout my scientific life, to address basic problems related to the control of expression of genetic information in animals, notably in mammals, that have to be solved in order to advance our understanding of pathological disorders. The work of my laboratory has contributed to the so-called "Genetic Revolution" which, over the last 30 years, has drastically changed our ideas on the structural organization, expression and evolution of the genetic material. What is the organization of the building blocks of this material that we name genes, how are they turned on and off in our cells during development, and then in adult tissues, how are the different cell types generated, and which role do hormones play in these processes? These are some of the questions that we have addressed. We have uncovered some basic principles, and hopefully, some of our studies are leading, and will further lead, to a better understanding of diseases and to more efficient therapies.
Science is the most challenging of modern adventures, a unique chance to discover the unknown. The excitement of being a molecular geneticist and biologist is to participate to the exploration of life and to discover how it operates. It is also the conviction that progress in biological sciences will ultimately result in a molecular understanding of all diseases, paving the way to their successful treatment. Most importantly, being a molecular geneticist gave me a chance to understand from where we, human beings, originate through 4 billion years of biochemical evolution, and to realize that we are all alike, with just a few small differences that are due to genetic and environmental chance. Clearly, if some of us are smarter, it is not their own merit! What modern biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics have taught us are lessons of tolerance, humility and responsibility.
Let me thank againvery sincerelyall of those who enabled me to participate in the adventure of science and to be present here today.