Bill Gates and his wife joined five scientists and researchers as winners of the Lasker Awards for medical research and contributions to public health, it was announced Monday.
The Lasker Awards are given by The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing biomedical research to relieve human suffering and improve health and well-being, according to the foundation's website.
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Bill and Melinda Gates won the Lasker public service award, according to the Associated Press.
The Gates were honored "for leading a historic transformation in the way we view the globe's most pressing health concerns and improving the lives of millions of the world's most vulnerable," the foundation said.
The couple's philanthropic contributions have surpassed $29 billion. Lasker noted the Gates supported an international partnership to immunize millions of children against killer diseases, including polio, while providing agriculture and family-planning information and services.
The Gates will be honored with the other recipients Sept. 20 in New York City. Each award comes with a $250,000 prize.
"Philanthropy can sometimes take the risk out of the equation [for research]," Melinda Gates said in an interview, according to the New York Times. Bill Gates
added that "we’re not even halfway through the kind of impact we can have in global health. I wish we were."
The foundation supports programs that foster the prevention and treatment of disease and disabilities, recognizes efforts in science, and educates the public.
The Lasker clinical medical research award will be given to Graeme Clark, an emeritus professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia; Ingeborg Hochmair of the company MED-EL in Innsbruck, Austria; and Blake Wilson of Duke University, for developing the modern cochlear implant. More than 320,000 people use the implants for severe hearing loss.
The foundation's basic medical research award will be given to Richard Scheller of the biotech company Genentech and Dr. Thomas Sudhof of Stanford University. Scheller and Sudhof discovered how brain cells release chemical messengers to communicate, which led to new advances against illnesses like Parkinson's disease.
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