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Finalists for Canada’s top science prize announced (November 18, 2004)


Ottawa, ON – Tom Brzustowski, president of Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC), has named the finalists for the 2004 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. The annual prize, which was renamed in 1999 to honour Canadian Nobel laureate Gerhard Herzberg, is now widely recognized as the country’s most prestigious science award.

The finalists are:

– David Dolphin of the University of British Columbia, who pioneered the study of a class of light-activated compounds called porphyrins. His seminal achievement is the creation of the porphyrin-based drug Visudyne – the world’s first treatment for age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness.

– Andr Salama of the University of Toronto, who has made major contributions to microchip design and to fostering a collaborative relationship among Canadian universities and industry. His research has resulted in the development of microelectronics components used in communications, computer and instrumentation systems worldwide.

– John Smol of Queen’s University, Kingston, who has transformed paleolimnology and the study of ancient lake sediments into one of the hottest fields in modern ecology. His research has provided a powerful tool for revealing how aquatic organisms interact with their environment and respond over time to climate change.

The 2004 Herzberg Gold Medal will be awarded on December 6 at a ceremony at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Marc Garneau, president of the Canadian Space Agency, will give the keynote address.

The winner’s research funding will be increased to $1 million over the next five years. The funds may be used for his own university-based research or to direct in some related way such as the establishment of research scholarships, fellowships or chairs in his name in Canadian universities. The other two finalists receive $50,000, which may be used in a similar fashion.

Science and Engineering Research Canada (more commonly known as NSERC) is a key federal agency investing in people, discovery and innovation. It supports both basic university research through research grants, and project research through partnerships among post-secondary institutions, government and the private sector, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people.