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Top Canadian scientists recognized


Toronto, ON – The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Cancer Research and the Ontario Cancer Research Network have recognized Canadian talent by honouring four of Canada’s top scientists, Drs Jim Till, Ernest McCulloch and Tak Mak of the Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital, and Dr Tony Pawson of the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital for their remarkable achievements in the field of cancer research.

“CIHR is particularly pleased to honour world-leading scientists who have made an exceptional contribution to the understanding, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer. They have enriched Canada’s health research landscape,” says Dr Alan Bernstein, CIHR president.

Drs Ernest McCulloch and James Till (Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto) are known for their pioneering work on haemapoietic cells. A major breakthrough was their development of the spleen colony assay in irradiated mice that led to the identification of stem cells. This discovery led to a revolution in research in haematopoiesis and the emergence of a critical new avenue for the treatment of many diseases, including cancer. Their work has led to the awarding of the 2005 Lasker Prize.

Dr Tak Mak (Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto) initially studied T cells and his pivotal early work led to the cloning of the T cell receptor, a major milestone in our understanding of the immune system. His later studies have utilized mouse genetics to identify the roles of many of the key regulators of cell growth and differentiation. A major focus of this work relates to breast cancer.

Dr Tony Pawson (Samuel Lunefeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto) has been studying molecular aspects of cell signaling, especially the roles of cancer genes. A major breakthrough was the emergence and confirmation of his hypothesis that signal transduction is controlled by the formation of protein complexes. This work has led to a paradigm shift in our understanding of the genetics and biochemistry of cell biology and cancer.