Lasker Award honors Rockefeller University biochemist for pioneering studies of gene activation

Robert G. Roeder, Ph.D., a biochemist whose research has led to major advances in understanding how human genes are switched "on" and "off," is this year's recipient of the highly prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced today.

Roeder investigates a biological process called transcription, a crucial activity occurring at all times in every one of the billions of cells that make up the human body. Since 1969, when he made his initial groundbreaking discovery of the three protein machines responsible for "reading" human genes, Roeder has gone on to elucidate the incredibly complex manner in which this vital process is orchestrated.

"Virtually all of what we know about gene activation and its regulation in animal cells can be traced back to Bob Roeder's seminal studies," says Rockefeller University President Paul Nurse, Ph.D., past recipient of the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research as well as the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. "While there have been many contributors in this area, none have provided more seminal discoveries than Roeder.

"The biochemical approaches pioneered by Roeder's laboratory allow a more detailed understanding of the molecular events that occur in normal cellular processes and in disease states such as cancer," Nurse adds. "Ultimately, the application of Roeder's findings may lead to new drugs that selectively switch genes on or off for the treatment of diseases like cancer , heart disease, Alzheimer's, AIDS and any other medical condition in which normal gene activity is disrupted."

"We need to understand not only the mechanisms underlying normal gene activation, but to relate these to important medical problems," says Roeder, who is the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Rockefeller University. "As we become familiar with the fundamentals of how genes work, we

Contact: Joseph Bonner
Rockefeller University

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