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Scientist honoured at Gairdner International Awards


Toronto, ON – The researchers were the 2005 winners of the Gairdner International Awards, one of the scientific community’s most prestigious prizes. The awards are given out each October as part of a two-week national program run by the Gairdner Foundation. The University of Toronto hosts the awards and an associated two-day symposium.

“The Gairdner Awards are Canada’s most international prize in the field of biology and medicine,” said Professor Emeritus John Dirks of medicine and president of the Gairdner Foundation. “They have a long track record of 46 years and have gained an excellent reputation, especially in the global biomedical community.”

This year’s recipients reflect a diversity of research interests, including human memory, obesity and gene splicing. Dr Endel Tulving, the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Rotman Research Institute of the Baycrest Centre, was recognized for his pioneering research in understanding human memory and for providing the framework within which findings in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuropharmacology can be integrated.

“He’s one of Canada’s top scientists in the area of memory and he’s had a tremendous influence in Canada and around the world with his work,” said Professor Peter Lewis, vice-dean (research) at the Faculty of Medicine and a member of the Gairdner Foundation’s medical review panel. “Dr Tulving’s work has started several other studies. It’s just had a major impact on our thinking about memory.”

“Dr Tulving’s win reflects the very high quality of research, particularly in the area of neurosciences and cognition, at the University of Toronto. It reflects very well on the psychology department of which he is a member and also on the partnership between the Faculty of Medicine and the Rotman Research Institute of the Baycrest Centre, one of our nine fully affiliated teaching hospitals,” Lewis added.

Dr Tulving was humbled by the award, commenting, “It was totally unexpected and very pleasant for that reason. I knew about the Gairdner Awards before but I never thought that I would ever get one.”

At a recent event held in his honour at the Baycrest Centre, Dr Tulving attributed much of his success in winning the award to the support of the Rotman Research Institute. As a token of his gratitude and in an effort to further the institute’s research into the aging process, he announced that he planned on donating his $30,000 in prize money back to the centre.

Reported by Michelle MacArthur