1956 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award

Biochemical studies of connective tissues

In the present surge of interest in connective tissues and diseases in which they are affected, it is difficult to believe that less than 25 years ago, comparatively little work on the basic structure and characteristics of these tissues was being doneā€”and that little largely in the chemical laboratories of the leather industry. Today the connective tissues have taken their place as one of the most important areas of current research, and interest in rheumatic diseases and other disorders of connective tissue has grown steadily as their prevalence and seriousness have been understood.

In assigning credit for advances in science, the difficulty of suitably recognizing all who contributed is obvious. This is true in the case of the growth of knowledge of connective tissue, yet the roles of Dr. Karl Meyer and of Dr. Francis Schmitt are so outstanding that they may be cited not only for the importance of their individual contributions, but also because they so brilliantly symbolize the total accomplishments in this field of research.

Approaching the study of connective tissue from the standpoint of biochemistry, Karl Meyer has made great advances in characterizing the various components of collagen and ground substance, with particular reference to the mucopolysaccharides. Using as research tools the newly developed techniques of electronmicroscopy and X-ray diffraction, Francis Schmitt has elucidated the physical characteristics of connective tissue. No less important, their thoughtful approach to their own investigations has given impetus to research in many other laboratories throughout the world; and with each new advance in knowledge they have pointed the way to fruitful areas for further exploration.