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Asthma researchers awarded international medical prize


Dr. Malcolm Sears is a professor in the Division of Respirology at McMaster University’s Department of Medicine. Image courtesy of Western University.

Dr. Malcolm Sears is a professor in the Division of Respirology at McMaster University’s Department of Medicine. Image courtesy of Western University.

London, ON – The 2016 recipients of the J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine have made it their mission to better understand asthma with the aim of informing practice for better therapy and management. Drs. Malcolm Sears and Stephen Holgate are co-recipients of this year’s prize, which is awarded by the Robarts Research Institute at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Robarts has been awarding the Taylor Prize to leading scientists since 1985 and recognizes the contributions of outstanding internationally recognized researchers. “I am very excited to meet this year’s recipients who have transformed approaches to the treatment and management of asthma,” said Dr. Marlys Koschinsky, scientific and executive director at Robarts.

Dr. Sears is a professor in the Division of Respirology at McMaster University’s Department of Medicine. His research focuses on the epidemiology and natural history of asthma with particular focus on its frequency, risk factors and characteristics in large populations. He has been conducting a three-decades-long longitudinal study that has followed participants from infancy to adulthood. This study has built the foundation of understanding of how asthma initiates and progresses, as well as the risk factors and impact of asthma in children.

Dr. Sears’ landmark study, published in the Lancet in 1990, was the first to show that a commonly prescribed asthma treatment was related to a greatly increased risk of asthma attack and death and likely responsible for an epidemic of asthma fatalities. “This ingenious study changed asthma treatment worldwide and has saved countless

Dr. Stephen Holgate is medical research council clinical professor of immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton in the UK.  Image courtesy of Western University.

Dr. Stephen Holgate is medical research council clinical professor of immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton in the UK. Image courtesy of Western University.

lives,” said Dr. Grace Parraga, Robarts Research Institute scientist and member of the Taylor Prize committee.

Dr. Stephen Holgate is medical research council clinical professor of immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton in the UK. His research has been used to help develop guidelines on asthma management and has been the catalyst for the discovery of new therapeutic targets.

Dr. Holgate’s asthma research is poised at the intersection between basic science, clinical application and business. His findings have resulted in more than 800 peer-reviewed papers including his recent development of inhaled beta-interferon to block asthma worsening after viral infection stemming from the common cold. “The novel approach he discovered and developed was licensed and is now in phase 2 clinical trials and has the potential to transform life for asthma patients and significantly decrease asthma attacks and deaths,” said Dr. Parraga.

The award will be presented to Drs. Sears and Holgate at the Leaders in Innovation Dinner on Thursday, November 10, 2016 at the London Convention Centre, London – an evening highlighting research into chronic lung disease. The prize winners will also give a keynote address during the J. Allyn Taylor International Prize In Medicine Symposium taking place earlier that day and will be included as part of a panel of experts on chronic lung disease during the day’s Public Forum.

The J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine is named after the founding Chair of the Board at Robarts, and includes a cash prize of $25,000 and a medal bearing the likeness of J. Allyn Taylor. The award is supported by the Stiller Foundation and the family of the late J. Allyn Taylor.