Lab Canada

2010 Canada Gairdner Award recipients announced

Toronto, ON – The Gairdner Foundation this morning announced the recipients of the 2010 Canada Gairdner Awards. Canada’s only international science prizes, they are considered one of the world’s most prestigious medical research awards.

Featured awards include the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, which recognizes a Canadian who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science, and the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award, the first major international award to recognize individual contributions to health in the developing world.

This year’s winners are:

– William A Catterall PhD, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. Dr Catterall discovered the voltage-gated sodium channel and calcium channel proteins that underlie electrical signaling in the brain, which is the basis of how the brain receives, processes, and sends information. His work has also led to new understanding of the molecular mechanisms of function and regulation of these ion channel proteins.

– Pierre Chambon MD, Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), Strasbourg, France. Dr Chambon has made pioneering contributions to mapping out nuclear receptors and understanding the fundamental mechanics of DNA transcription – the first step in gene expression.

– William G Kaelin MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston. Dr Kaelin has identified how cells in the body monitor and respond to oxygen levels.

– Peter J Ratcliffe MD, University of Oxford, Oxford. Dr Ratcliffe has identified how cells in the body monitor and respond to oxygen levels.

– Gregg L Semenza MD, PhD, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. Dr Semenza has identified how cells in the body monitor and respond to changes in oxygen levels.

– Nicholas White, MD DSc, Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Bangkok. Dr White has won the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award. He proved that artemisinin, a compound derived from a plant used for over a thousand years in Chinese medicine, is a highly effective treatment for malaria.

– Calvin Stiller, CM MD, chair, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research; Past Chair, Genome Canada. Dr Stiller has won the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award. He is a remarkable builder of private and public institutions that have greatly enriched the research landscape of Canada and the health of Canadians. He was also a pioneer in multiple organ transplantation and diabetes.

“These awards pay tribute to the passion, dedication and vision that drive these extraordinary individuals to push the boundaries of medical science,” said Dr John Dirks, president and scientific director of The Gairdner Foundation. “Their work has changed the face of medicine, from the discovery of the mechanisms underlying electrical signaling in the brain, to the validation of an ancient Chinese remedy as a treatment for malaria.”

The awards, which have a track record of identifying significant work early and each of which comes with a $100,000 cash prize, will be presented in October to the seven recipients. In addition to honouring groundbreaking work, the awards distinguish Canada as a leader in science and elevate the profile of science across the country.