Home Cartoonist Scientists Honored for COVID-19 Tracker, Prenatal Test

Scientists Honored for COVID-19 Tracker, Prenatal Test



NEW YORK (AP) — A Johns Hopkins University scientist who created a website to track COVID-19 cases around the world is the recipient of this year’s Lasker Award for Public Service.

The $250,000 prizes, announced Wednesday by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, recognize achievements in medical research.

The public service award went to Lauren Gardner, an engineer who studies the spread of disease. She worked with her lab team to develop the COVID-19 tracker as the coronavirus began spreading around the world in January 2020. The dashboard has become a key resource and now tracks cases, deaths, vaccines and more around the world. Through it all, the team has made the tracker freely available to the public.

The dashboard set “a new standard for public health data science” and helped inform both personal decisions and policy, the Lasker Foundation said in a statement.

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The medical research prize was awarded to Yuk Ming Dennis Lo, a molecular biologist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, for creating a prenatal blood test to detect Down syndrome and other genetic diseases. Lo discovered that the DNA of the fetus was in the mother’s blood, making it possible to do genetic screening with a blood test rather than a more invasive procedure.

The basic research prize was shared by three scientists: Richard O. Hynes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Erkki Ruoslahti from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in California, and Timothy A. Springer from Harvard Medical School. They have been recognized for their research on key immune proteins called integrins, which help cells attach to other nearby cells and molecules. Their work helped launch the field of integrin research, which has since led to new disease treatment strategies.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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