How a Jewish Texan and His Wife Created America’s Most Prestigious Prize for Medical Research

Established in 1946 when funding for medical research was scarce, the Lasker award has gone to innovators ranging from Jonas Salk and Florence Sabin to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, who pioneered the mRNA vaccine. Susan Hertog tells the story of Albert and Mary Lasker, whose contribution to the science of medicine went far beyond the prize:

Albert was born in 1880 and raised in the then-backwater town of Galveston, Texas. His father, Morris Lasker, a punitive and dominating man, was a German Jewish refugee who had earned wealth and prominence by riding the coattails of the Civil War railways, converting his local flour mill into a national commodity.

It was clear to Albert, even as a child, that he must conform to his father’s wishes or leave home. At twelve, Albert started a newspaper; at sixteen, he quit school; and, after a stint reporting for small Southern newspapers, he was ready to trade its drudgery for big-league journalism. . . . Morris Lasker, declaring journalism a stain on the family name, offered Albert a deal. He would secure his son a job in advertising, an “honest” profession, and perhaps, in time, reconsider. It was a small victory, but a ticket out. Certain that he could beat his father at the game, Albert vowed never to return.

In a twist that neither father nor son could have foreseen, advertising sales became Albert’s career—indeed, he revolutionized the industry.

In 1940, Albert married Mary Woodward, a Wisconsin Protestant whose family traced its lineage back to the Mayflower. Following World War II, the couple devoted themselves to funding and raising money for medical research, and, in Mary’s case, lobbying for government investment in the same.

Read more at City Journal

More about: American Jewish History, Medicine, Philanthropy, Science

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy