Year's Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards...


September 27, 1997

WHEN THIS year's Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards were announced, two of the three winners were from the Johns Hopkins University. In New York City yessterday, Victor McKusick accepted an award for special achievement, while Alfred Sommer was honored for his clinical research.

The two scientists join five previous researchers who won the Lasker prize while at Hopkins.

Aspiring young scientists can learn much from the careers of these two men.

Dr. McKusick began his medical career in cardiology, but became intrigued by genetics. He went on to establish medical genetics as a distinct branch of medicine. His determination to press ahead wore down resistance to his work, creating a vastly enriched set of tools for understanding and treating disease.

Dr. Sommer initially resisted the crowded field of internal medicine, finding his way instead into a career that combined ophthalmology and training in public health. That led to the discovery that Vitamin A could not only prevent blindness but also save lives.

The discovery by Dr. Sommer was looked on with suspicion. It was described by one medical journal as "too good to be true." But it wasn't -- and thousands of children are alive to prove it.

STATE Highway Administration officials merit praise for their recent decision to add guardrails and enhance safety along Interstate 97, which links Baltimore and Annapolis.

This summer, five fatalities occurred on I-97, often involving out-of-control cars that crossed the grassy median strip and collided with oncoming traffic.

The SHA initially concluded that the road conformed to national highway standards and did not require any changes.

But recognizing the deadly trend there, the department's engineers and administrators ultimately decided that it would be prudent to add guardrails in certain areas and rumble strips to alert drivers when they stray onto the road's shoulders, even if standards don't require them.

It will take about two years at a cost of $915,000 for the extra guardrails to be in place. Travelers on I-97 will be thankful for the added protection.

THE TUSSLE between letter-writers to The Sun over Elton John's pop tribute to the late Princess Diana -- did it befit the funeral at Westminster Abbey? -- seems an offspring of the larger, prior debate over the global response to the princess' death.

After the accident, some opined that the mammoth outpouring of grief was disproportionate to Diana's accomplishments and achievement. Others passionately disagreed.

No one, however, could deny the almost cosmic connection, at least posthumously, between the Princess of Wales and people around the world.

Whether a classic English writer would have provided a more apropos tribute than the pianist/singer -- or, as Shakespeare wrote, it's much ado about nothing -- is an endless argument.

Like the princess herself, Mr. John's updated ''Candle in the Wind'' resonated deeply with the public, especially the young; it is expected to break all sales records. Proceeds will go to charities Diana supported.

Shakespeare, Keats and William Blake were among those suggested by some as more suitable for a send-off.

But it was William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet and playwright, who earlier this century offered counsel on the very matter in question: The friends that have it I do wrong

When ever I remake a song

Should know what issue is at stake,

It is myself that I remake.

Pub Date: 9/27/97

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