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UCLA's Michael Grunstein Awarded Prestigious 2018 Lasker Price For Research In Genetics

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Michael Grunstein, a researcher and distinguished professor, will receive the 2018 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for his work on gene expression.

The good news was announced on Tuesday, Sept. 11, by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. The awarding ceremony will take place on Sept. 21 in New York City.

2018 Lasker Award Special Achievement

Grunstein is recognized for becoming the first to provide a demonstration that histone proteins, which package the DNA within chromosomes, play an important part in gene expression. By working on yeast, he and his team of researchers were able to show a particular chemical group that helps turn genes on and off, which is crucial to the development of the body.

His work paved the way to discover new avenues for treatment of diseases related to abnormal development of gene expression.

"[Gunstein's] pioneering work fundamentally changed our understanding of one of the most basic aspects of biology — the regulation of which genes are turned on and off in each cell — and opened the door for new therapeutic approaches to disease," stated Kelsey Martin, dean of Geffen School of Medicine.

He will be sharing the award with C. Davis Allis of the Rockefeller University. Allis expanded on the Grunstein's original findings and discovered a gene co-activator that can add acetyl groups to histones. The modification is crucial to gene expression.

Both Grunstein and Allis will receive $250,000 in addition to the award

The American Nobel

The Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award is often compared to the Nobel Prize. The award is handed to scientists, physicians, and public servants whose efforts made major progress in understanding, prevention, treatment, and cure of diseases. It is the most prestigious and most coveted award in the field of medical science.

It is also often dubbed as the American Nobel particularly because many of its laureates eventually were recognized by the Swedish award committee. In its history, a total of 87 recipients won a Nobel.

"With these awards, we honor innovative scientific thinking and years of dedicated meticulous research that expanded knowledge and improve health," said Claire Pomeroy, The Lasker Foundation president.

The foundation will also honor John Glen for the discovery and development of propofol. He will receive the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.

Meanwhile, Joan Argetsinger Steitz of Yale University will receive the Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award for her work on RNA biology and her vigorous support for women in science.

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