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Canadian scientist wins prestigious Kyoto Prize


Toronto, ON – Dr Anthony (Tony) Pawson, distinguished investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital and world-renowned cell biologist, is the first Canadian scientist to be named a Kyoto Prize Laureate by the Inamori Foundation of Kyoto, Japan.

“It is an extraordinary honour to receive this year’s Kyoto Prize for our work on communication between human cells,” said Dr Pawson, a world leader in signal transduction. “It is a real endorsement of the importance of fundamental scientific discovery in the fight against diseases such as cancer, and it is particularly exciting to see Canadian biomedical research being recognized by such a prestigious award.”

The Kyoto Prize is an international award that honours those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of humankind. It is awarded annually to recipients working in advanced technology, basic sciences, and arts and philosophy. Life sciences is honoured once every four years. Dr Pawson will be presented with a diploma, a 20-karat gold Kyoto Prize medal and 50 million yen (approximately C$470,000) on November 10 in Kyoto, Japan. Dr Pawson will be joined by fellow Canadian Dr Charles Margrave Taylor, Kyoto Prize laureate in arts and philosophy; and American Dr Richard Karp, Kyoto Prize laureate in advanced technology.

Dr Pawson’s discoveries contribute to every aspect of medical research and have relevance for the understanding and treatment of a host of diseases including cancer, diabetes, and disorders of the immune system. His insights on cancer cell signaling have underpinned effective new approaches to cancer treatment.

“We are incredibly proud to work alongside Tony. He has revolutionized the understanding of the way human cells work in health and in disease,” said Dr Jim Woodgett, director of research for the Lunenfeld. “This prize is considered the ‘Nobel’ of Japan.”

From 1981 to 1985, Dr Pawson was assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. In 1985 he joined the newly established Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, where he became the director of research from 2002 to 2005. In 2006, the Lunenfeld named him a distinguished scientist.