For contributions to molecular biology including techniques of molecular hybridization and the first synthesis of an infectious nucleic acid.
Sol Spiegelman's outstanding contributions to molecular biology include the first successful synthesis of an infectious viral ribonucleic acid (Q beta phage RNA), his many contributions to the development of nucleic acid hybridization techniques, and the application of these techniques to basic problems in cellular and viral biology.
His successful synthesis of an infectious viral nucleic acid demonstrated that faithful copies of molecules containing genetic information could indeed be synthesized in the laboratory. His studies on molecular hybridization demonstrated that this technique could be utilized to detect the presence and operation of specific genes (including viral genes) within cells.
These findings provide a basis for the current intensive search by Dr. Spiegelman and others for the presence and operation of similar viral genes in various human cancers.
For Dr. Spiegelman's new techniques, which may permit a definitive conclusion on the role of viruses in human cancer in the foreseeable future and may provide the basis for new chemotherapeutic and immunological controls of human cancer, this 1974 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award is given.