Professor wins distinguished research prize

By Isaac Wolf

Professor emeritus Elwood V. Jensen has been awarded “America’s Nobel” for two decades of research on steroid hormones that “opened up the field of nuclear hormone receptor research”.

Jensen, who will receive the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research with two colleagues, demolished the 1950s consensus among biochemists that hormones entered cells and then began a series of chemical reactions.

Jensen, the Charles B. Huggins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Ben May Institute for Cancer Research at the University, showed in his experiments with estrogen that hormones bind to receptor proteins—without undergoing chemical change.

His research, in turn, translated to a revolution in breast cancer treatment. “His work has transformed the treatment of breast cancer patients and saves or prolongs more than 100,000 lives annually,” read the award statement from the Lasker Foundation.

Jensen shares the award, which is considered the most prestigious honor for doctors, with Pierre Chambon, of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (Strasbourg, France), and Ronald M. Evans of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (La Jolla, California) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The Lasker Awards, first presented in 1946, will be presented at a luncheon ceremony on Friday, October 1 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. Dr. Mark McClellan, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will be the keynote speaker.