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AllisonLasker Person Of The Year - Dr. Jim Allison

While NASA may not have had any moon moments in awhile, the Moon Shoots Program developed at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is shining brightly thanks to this year’s 2015 Intown Person of the Year, Dr. Jim Allison. His most recent distinction coming in the form of a Lasker Award considered the nation’s highest honor for clinical research.

Dt. Allison’s research and discoveries in immunotherapy and its subsequent effectiveness in treating cancer patients has created a new paradigm in the race to cure cancer. Despite Allison’s humbleness in his surprise reaction to being the recipient of the coveted Lasker-DeBakey award, it comes at a time that drugs under development from his research are coming in rapid succession.

Born in Alice, Texas in 1948, as a small town boy he traveled and attended middle school summer programs at The University of Texas at Austin that sparked his interest in science and research. In the 1990s as a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, he was the first person to isolate the T-cell antigen receptor complex protein, which later led to the development of the drug Yervoy, approved in 2011 as a treatment for late-stage skin cancer. His most recent big time award came from the American Cancer Society’s Medal Of Honor for Basic Research in treating cancer by unlocking a shackled immune system.

MD Anderson President Ronald Depinho who had the foresight to bring Allison back to Texas and join him in his Moon Shots creation states,
“Jim Allison is a brilliant basic scientist who rigorously pursued his curiosity about the biology of T cells, leading to remarkable discoveries and a truly disruptive approach to treating cancer,”

Allison continues his work in tumor immunotherapy as Professor and Chair of Immunology and the director of Immunotherapy platform of Moon Shots at MD Anderson. Previously he won the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, sponsored by, among others, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. While Allison left for brief stints in California and New York, it is fate that he returns to Houston where he is doing his most important work to date. Stand by, there should be more to come from this brilliant mind.

Lisa Falkenberg


As a writer, Lisa Falkenberg of The Houston Chronicle is now the Lebron James of journalism. She is from the same generation, and we can expect more titles from the both of them in years to come. Falkenberg like the basketball icon did not win a title on her first try. In 2014, Falkenberg was a finalist for writing's top prize, but in 2015 after her second nomination, she won the coveted Pulitzer Prize This is the Chronicle’s first ever Pulitzer in its 114-year history.

Most who read her column in The Houston Chronicle know her well. Her fearless and in-depth style revealed that key testimony in a case was tainted because a witness was intimidated by a grand jury headed by a Houston, police officer. After Falkenberg's reports, a Texas court overturned the conviction. She won the Pulitzer Prize for this commentary on the Alfred Dewayne Brown case. The series of articles can be found on the Chronicle’s website.

Falkenberg is a sixth generation Texan raised in Seguin, Texas. Her career in journalism started as she began writing for her high school newspaper. She later studied journalism and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000. While working for the Associated Press in 2004, she was named the Texas AP writer of the year. The next year, she became a state correspondent for the Houston Chronicle. She became a columnist in 2007.

The Pulitzer announcement stated that Falkenberg’s "vividly-written, groundbreaking columns about grand jury abuses that led to a wrongful conviction and other egregious problems in the legal and immigration systems.”

"The most important thing for any newsroom is doing journalism that makes a difference in your community, and her work as a columnist has done that, " states Nancy Barnes, Houston Chronicle Editor. As a writer, she is only the second person in Houston to win a Pulitzer. The first was Houston Post's Gene Goltz in 1965.

Dallas Keuchel - Pitcher


As the pitching ace of the Houston Astros staff in 2015, Dallas Keuchel had one the best years of any pitcher in Astros history. Culminating with a win over the mighty New York Yankees in this year’s Major League Baseball Playoffs, Keuchel pitched the rising Houston Astros franchise back into the postseason for the first time in ten years.

Keuchel’s stellar season led him to be named the American League Cy Young winner as its best pitcher. Only National Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs had more wins with 22. While not overpowering with his fastball, Keuchel relies on pinpoint control and a sinker-slider combination that leaves opponents baffled as to why they cannot square up the baseballs he throws. Keuchel also won the Gold Glove award given to the best at fielding his position.

A three-year letterman at the University of Arkansas, Keuchel helped the Razorbacks reach the College World Series in 2009. He was then drafted later that year by the Astros in the 7th round of the MLB draft, where he played in the minors before being called up by the big club early 2012.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma the crafty, lanky lefty won only three games and lost 8 in his seasonal debut. After going 15 and 0 at home and ending the campaign with 20 wins and eight losses he registered two playoff wins only to come up just short against the eventual world champs, Kansas City. Keuchel has achieved his questionable superstar status and looks for a big payday when he becomes a free agent. It would be hard to part with Keuchel who even has his rooting section on days that he pitches in Minute Maid. Keuchel’s Corner was created by the Astros during this season and has been a huge draw.The Astros can only hope he wants to stay and finish what this year’s Astros have started.

.Renu Khator- Education