Planned Parenthood, HPV vaccine creators earn 2017 Lasker Awards

Dr. Schiller has received numerous awards for his contributions to papillomavirus virus molecular biology and HPV vaccine development, including the 2007 Service to America Medal – Federal Employee of the Year, the 2011 Albert Sabin Gold Medal Award, the 2011 AACR-American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, the 2014 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the 2017 American Society for Microbiology’s Joseph Public Health Award. “Since then, Planned Parenthood’s services have expanded to include essential health and reproductive care and advice for women both in the US and internationally”.

The Foundation went on to describe how Lowy and Schiller provided seminal animal and clinical work to show that a vaccine could prevent against the high-risk HPV16 subtype, which accounts for a large chunk of HPV-related cancers. “When people were making those discoveries, they were not thinking of the HPV vaccine”, Schiller told Science. The awards are seen as “America’s Nobels” by some and many winners also win Nobels-87 of them, to be exact.

Each of the Lasker Awards comes with a $250,000 payment, the Los Angeles Times noted.

Despite the political opposition that Planned Parenthood continues to face, the organization is going as strong as ever.

The 2017 Lasker Awards gave a boost to Planned Parenthood, the controversial nonprofit organization known for providing reproductive healthcare worldwide.

The 2017 prize for basic medical research was awarded to molecular biologist Michael Hall, 64, of the University of Basel’s Biozentrum in Switzerland for discovering how a group of proteins called target of rapamycin (TOR) direct cell growth. “Michael Hall showed that TOR proteins control cell growth in response to nutrients and growth factors and thus established that growth is a highly regulated process that is independent of the cell division cycle”. “I think of TOR as the brain of the cell“, Hall said in a video produced by the Lasker Foundation. Today, researchers recognize that TOR growth regulators are involved in a multitude of processes, including aging, brain development, and diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Two pharmaceutical companies, Merck & Co., Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), pursued Lowy and Schiller’s findings to develop vaccines that combat HPV16 as well as additional HPV types.

Cervical cancer is responsible for the deaths of 250,000 women around the world each year.

Planned Parenthood’s services include prevention, testing, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HPV vaccinations, in addition to family planning. Approximately 1 in 5 women in the United States have received Planned Parenthood’s assistance at some point during their lives. The organization also screens for breast and cervical cancer, and these procedures revealed cancer or precancerous abnormalities in nearly 72,000 women in 2015.

“They devised a blueprint for several safe and effective vaccines that promise to slash the incidence of cervical cancer and mortality, the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide, as well as other malignancies and disorders that arise from human papillomaviruses”, the Foundation observed.

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