Lab Canada

Scientists, engineer among this year’s Killam Prize winners

Ottawa, ON May 26, 2003 Edward J Davison and Tak Mak, both at the University of Toronto, and University of Alberta’s David Schindler were among this year’s winners of the 2003 Killam Prizes, Canada’s most distinguished annual awards for outstanding career achievements in engineering, natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Edward J Davison, university professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto, works in the field of automatic control and automation. His contributions have focussed on the fundamental properties and characteristics of control systems.

Dr Davison is internationally recognized for his research contributions, and he has received many awards including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 1997 Control System Society’s Hendrik W Bode Lecture Prize and the 1993 Triennial Giorgio Quazza Medal from the International Federation of Automatic Control, for lifetime research contributions. He was elected a member of the Russian Academy of Non-linear Sciences in 1998, Honorary Professor of the Beijing Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and elected Fellow of the IEEE in 1978. He has been Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 1977.

For more than two decades, Tak Mak at the University of Toronto Health Sciences, has been counted as one of a handful of international leaders in virology, immunology, molecular biology and cancer genetics. His research has had an enormous impact on science all over the world and forms the foundation for novel therapeutic approaches to many diseases. His papers describing the cloning of the gene, which encodes the T cell receptor, opened the floodgates of knowledge concerning the T cell biology. This had fundamental impact in both the basic understanding of immunology as well as the underlying basis for immune system diseases.

Dr Mak was instrumental in creating genetically engineered mice to increase understanding of the human immune system, apoptosis and tumorigenesis. Under his guidance, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows continue to make seminal contributions in the areas of immune system regulation, programmed cell death and survival, and cancer.

Dr Mak is a university professor at the University of Toronto whose numerous awards include the Order of Canada, memberships in the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the Royal Society of London, the Royal Society of Canada, the Gairdner International Award, the Sloan Prize of the General Motors Cancer Foundation, the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine and the Novartis Prize in Immunology. In March 2004, Dr Mak and Professor Mark Davis will be presented with the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, the highest and most internationally-renowned prize awarded in the Federal Republic of Germany in the field of medicine. Dr Mak holds numerous patents and has published over 500 articles in scientific journals around the world.

David Schindler is Killam Memorial professor of ecology at the University of Alberta. His contributions to science cross disciplinary boundaries and have addressed problems of eutrophication, acid rain, climate change and biodiversity. His whole-ecosystem studies have been the basis of policy decisions and measures that have saved thousands of lakes around the world. He was the first person to tie together the effects of the global phenomena of acid precipitation, climate warming and stratospheric ozone depletion on freshwater ecosystems.

Dr Schindler’s career has been marked by science that encompasses high-quality research on processes that control how aquatic ecosystems function.

Dr Schindler holds numerous awards, including the GE Hutchinson Medal (American Society of Limnology and Oceanography), the Naumann-Thienemann Medal, the first Stockholm Water Prize, the Manning Distinguished Achievement Award and the Volvo Environment Prize. In 2001 he received the Award of Excellence and the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of London and of the Royal Society of Canada and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).

The Killam Prizes, inaugurated in 1981, are financed through funds donated to the Canada Council by Dorothy J Killam before her death, in memory of her husband, Izaak Walton Killam. The prizes were created to honour eminent Canadian scholars and scientists actively engaged in research, whether in industry, government agencies or universities.

The Killam fund at the Canada Council was valued at some $62.7 million as of March 31, 2002. The Killam Trusts, which fund scholarship and research at four Canadian universities, a research institute and the Canada Council, are valued at approximately $400 million.

The Killam Prizes include funding of $100,000 and this year’s awards were presented on May 21 in Edmonton, AB.