Brightest Medical Minds Celebrate 50 Years of Making Science Matter at Canada
Gairdner Awards

    -   Toronto to host the largest gathering of the world's leading
        scientists ever held in this country October 28th-30th

    -   Among 60 current and past awardees attending are 24 Nobel Prize

    -   Three days of free academic and public lectures highlight the role
        that discovery plays in science and in the lives of Canadians

TORONTO, Oct. 26 /CNW/ - The world's preeminent scientists - some of whom have changed the course of medical history - will converge on Toronto this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Canada Gairdner Awards, Canada's largest celebration of science, recognizing some of the most significant medical advances of our time. Click here for a schedule of events.

"These awards truly distinguish Canada as a leader in science and elevate the profile of science across the country," said Dr. John Dirks, President and Scientific Director of the Gairdner Foundation. "We are honoured to host 60 current and past Canada Gairdner Award winners - including 24 who went on to win the Nobel prize - in Toronto to share ideas and reflect on the past, present and future of medical research. It will be an unparalleled experience."

Next to the Nobel Prize, the Canada Gairdner Awards are the most prestigious global medical research awards and have a track record of identifying significant work early: 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine recipients, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Carol Greider, were recognized with Gairdner Awards 11 years ago and 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Thomas A. Steitz received a Gairdner Award in 2007. The discoveries of Gairdner Award winners have included the vaccine that eradicated smallpox; the technology that made MRI, CT and PET scans possible; the identification of the structure of DNA; and immunosuppressant drugs that allow organ transplantation.

The 2009 Canada Gairdner Awards will be presented to seven recipients, and will showcase a broad range of new medical insights, from the science behind an HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer, to the creation of stem cells from normal body cells. New this year is the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award, which is the first major award to recognize an individual's contribution to health in the developing world.

    This year's winners include:

    -   Dr. Nubia Munoz, recipient of the inaugural Canada Gairdner Global
        Health Award, who discovered the two strains of the human papilloma
        virus (HPV) that are the most common cause of cervical cancer,
        contributing directly to the development of a vaccine to help prevent
        against the disease

    -   Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, a leader in stem cell research who broke the
        logjam of ethical issues around stem cell research by discovering a
        means to develop stem cells from skin cells

    -   Dr. Peter Walter and Dr. Kazutoshi Mori, who elucidated the mysteries
        of folding proteins so that the body can use them effectively

    -   Dr. Lucy Shapiro and Dr. Richard Losick, who discovered key
        mechanisms that allow cells to become specialized and give rise to
        the different parts of our bodies, such as organs, tissues, and bones

    -   Dr. David Sackett (Professor Emeritus, McMaster University), who
        coined the term clinical epidemiology, and strongly advocated for
        evidence-based medicine, challenging medical institutions the world
        over to adopt a higher standard of care instead of accepting the
        status quo

Free Public Lectures Featuring Present and Past Gairdner Winners

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Awards, The Gairdner Foundation is also inviting the public to hear top researchers speak about their work at a series of Gairdner Forums hosted by the University of Toronto at Convocation Hall on Friday, October 30. Admission is free, but those interested in attending are asked to register at

All sessions will present a moderated panel discussion, followed by a Q&A from the audience. Sessions include:

Attack and Repulsions: Infections and the Immune System (8:45 - 10:15 a.m.) - moderated by Gairdner winner and Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, and including panelists and past Gairdner winners Ralph Steinman, Emil Unanue, Rolf Zinkernagel and Robert Gallo.

The Metabolic Syndrome: Food and Fuel for Thought (10:30 - 12:00 p.m.) - moderated by Gairdner winner and Nobel Laureate Joe Goldstein and including Gairdner award-winning panelists Michael Brown, Jeff Friedman, Ron Evans and Tony Pawson.

Cancer: Can New Insights into Biology Yield Better Results (2:00 - 3:30 p.m.) - featuring panelists such as 2008 Gairdner and Nobel Prize winner Harald zur Hausen and moderated by Gairdner winner Michael Bishop

The Personalized Genome: Do I Want to Know? (7:00 - 8:30 p.m.) - panel discussion featuring Nobel Laureate and past Gairdner winners Sydney Brenner, Gairdner Medical Advisory Committee member Michael Hayden and NBC correspondent Charles Sabine.

For more information, including a complete schedule of all three days of Gairdner events, tickets, and information about past and present winners, please visit

The Gairdner Foundation: Making Science Matter

The Canada Gairdner Awards were created in 1959 to recognize and reward the achievements of medical researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life. They are Canada's only globally known and respected international prizes, and the Gairdner Foundation is the only national organization that consistently brings the world's best biomedical researchers to Canada to share their ideas and work with scientists across the country. In so doing, it enlarges networks and enhances Canada's international reputation while providing a realistic and unbiased benchmark for Canada's leading scientists.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Gairdners' 2009 National Sponsor is the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). CIHR is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

SOURCE Gairdner Foundation

For further information: For further information: Sarah Bannoff, Edelman, (416) 979-1120 ext 318,

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