Lab Canada

Researcher awarded Steacie scientific prize for medical genomics work

Toronto, ON – February 26, 2004 – Dr Stephen Scherer of the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto was awarded today the 2003 Steacie Prize in the Natural Sciences for outstanding scientific research carried out in Canada. The prize is one of Canada’s most prestigious science awards encompassing a wide range of disciplines including mathematics, engineering, chemistry, physics, and biology.

Dr Scherer received the prize for his seminal contributions in the fields of human genomics and genetic disease research. He is a senior scientist in genetics and genomic biology and an associate chief of research at Sick Children’s Hospital, and an associate professor in the department of molecular and medical genetics at the University of Toronto.

Traditionally awarded to chemists, physicists and mathematicians, the prize was established in 1964 in memory of former National Research Council (NRC) President EWR Steacie and gives a young scientist under the age of 40 a $15,000 prize and guest lectureship at the NRC Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences in Ottawa. Previous awardees include luminaries such as Nobel Prize Winner John Polanyi from University of Toronto. A distinguished panel, which is appointed annually by the EWR Steacie Memorial Fund, a private foundation dedicated to the advancement of science and engineering in Canada, selects the winner.

“It is an absolute honour to be awarded the Steacie prize and for our important research to be acknowledged,” says Dr Scherer, who also holds an investigator award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and an international researcher scholar award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Our group is one of few in the world that early on studied the human genome from its highest order structure of chromosomes through to its simplest form of linear DNA sequence. This strategy coupled with the sense of acuity of a paediatric hospital environment allowed us to make numerous discoveries regarding how the genome expresses itself in development and disease.”

Working within Canada’s first human genome infrastructure named the Centre for Applied Genomics, which he co-founded, Dr Scherer’s group has contributed to the mapping or discovery of some 20 disease-causing genes, many being on human chromosome 7.