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Ottawa experts recognized at achievement awards


Ottawa, ON – Three University of Ottawa researchers were recognized last week at the Ottawa Life Sciences Council Annual Achievement Awards. The awards celebrate individuals who have made significant contributions to Ottawa’s emerging life sciences sector. Since their creation in 1994, 69 individuals and organizations have been honoured by their peers.

Dr Zemin Yao, department of biochemistry, microbiology and immunology, University of Ottawa, was cited for his outstanding research into the fundamental mechanisms underlying the cause and prevention of disease. He received the Basic Research Award for his research into the metabolism of lipids, lipoproteins, their receptors and their linkage to heart disease and cancer. His laboratories recently revealed the first direct link between lipoprotein and cancer. His team discovered that cholesterol may play a role in stopping lipoprotein receptors in cells from suppressing the growth of tumors.

Dr Robert Ben, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, won the Dr Michael Smith Promising Scientist Award. This award recognizes an individual who shows significant promise in their first years of research. Dr Ben’s research on the key structural features of naturally occurring antifreeze glycoproteins will one day be used to help us understand how to protect living cells from freezing and death.

Dr G Peter Raaphorst, who is head of the medical physics department at the Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Centre and professor at the University of Ottawa & Carleton University, has been recognized with the Career Achievement Award for his role and dedication in building a world-class radiobiology and medical physics department. From its rudimentary beginnings of three basic physicists, a cobalt unit and a couple of old radio therapy units, the centre has now grown into a department of 12 professional physicists, 40 support staff with leading-edge radiotherapy equipment making it one of the most advanced cancer treatment centers in Canada.