Lasker award to Dr Tu Youyou for the development of artemisinin therapy

 (image credit: Lasker Foundation)

Congratulations to Dr Tu Youyou for her well-deserved Lasker award (considered a precursor to the Nobel prize) in clinical sciences (hat tip: Mariam).

Dr Youyou recieved the honor for her painstaking work screening traditional Chinese herbs for antimalarial properties as part of military project 523 (more on the military and malaria here). The operation isolated Artemisia (also known as sweet wormwood) extracts, refined production, removed toxic elements, and conducted initial human trials which led to the development of the most potent antimalarial drug discovered to date. Artemisinin combination therapies are now the first-line treatment for Plasmodium falciparum in nearly all countries and cure millions of patients each year. The Lasker site includes a fantastic recount (much better than sparse biographies the Nobel committee posts) detailing this great story of scientific rigor applied to a rich knowledge heritage.

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