Five of the world's top scientists win 2007 Gairdner Awards for achievements in medical research

    -  Cancers and genetic replication are the subjects of breakthrough
       research by 2007 Gairdner awardees

    -  2007 Gairdner awardee Dr. Dennis Slamon speaks on breast cancer in
       Toronto on Wednesday, April 18th

    TORONTO, April 13 /CNW/ - Dr. John Dirks, President and Scientific
Director of the Gairdner Foundation, ( today announced the
five winners of the 2007 Gairdner International Awards, one of the most
prestigious awards in biomedical science.
    Said Dr. Dirks: "The 2007 awards reflect the importance of basic
discoveries that lead to a better understanding of human disease and the
development of treatments and cures to alleviate them."
    On April 18th, at the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto, Gairdner awardee Dr.
Dennis Slamon of UCLA will speak at a luncheon on breast cancer and the
applications of his work on Herceptin. This new breast cancer drug targets a
specific genetic alteration found in about 30 percent of breast cancer
patients, and has changed the paradigm for cancer treatment and has saved the
lives of thousands of women. His work exemplifies bench to bedside or
translational research of the highest order.
    The other four 2007 awardees are being honoured for their fundamental
discoveries that will have impact on human genetic development, cancer and
other diseases.
    C. David Allis of The Rockefeller University has discovered the universal
mechanisms whereby modifications in specialized proteins called histones
affect the genome stability and gene transcription, referred to as the histone
code hypothesis.
    Kim A. Nasmyth of Oxford University has made a series of discoveries
pinpointing the novel mechanisms in cell division that are essential to life.
    Harry F. Noller of the University of California, Santa Cruz and Thomas A.
Steitz of Yale University identified the detailed structure and function of
the ribosome, the subcellular structure in which proteins are synthesized.
They identified that RNA catalyzed reactions are critical, and their work
explains how many antibiotics work and how new ones can be developed.
    The "Gairdners", founded by the late Toronto businessman, James Gairdner,
are now in their 48th year. They have grown to be one of the most prestigious
international awards for medical research, recognizing outstanding
contributions by medical scientists worldwide whose work will significantly
improve the quality of life. Of the 283 Gairdner awardees, 68 have gone on to
win the Nobel Prize.
    Each Gairdner awardee receives $30,000 and a statue (Le Coeur) at a gala
dinner that will be held this year on October 25th at the Four Seasons Hotel
in Toronto. The awardees are chosen through a rigorous two-stage arms length
process, by two medical advisory committees made up of leading medical
scientists from Canada and around the world.
    Since 2003, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has been
the lead national sponsor of the Gairdner awards. CIHR is the major federal
agency responsible for funding health research in Canada, supporting the work
of 10,000 researchers in universities, teaching hospitals and research
institutes across Canada. The results are improved health for Canadians, more
effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health
care system.

    C. David Allis, PhD
    Joy and Jack Fishman Professor
    Head, Laboratory of Chromatin Biology
    The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA
    "For his transforming studies demonstrating the link between chromatin
structure and gene transcription and elucidating the mechanisms by which a
variety of post-translational modifications of histones are involved in gene
expression and genome maintenance and stability"

    Kim A. Nasmyth, PhD
    Whitley Chair
    Department of Biochemistry
    Oxford University, Oxford, UK
    "For discovery of the mechanism of chromosome segregation during cell
division, which has profound implications for our understanding of chromosome
non-disjunction in human cancer and other genetic diseases."

    Dennis J. Slamon, MD, PhD
    Executive Vice-Chair for Research
    Professor Department of Medicine
    University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, California, USA
    "For the development of targeted therapy Herceptin against advanced
breast cancer expressing the Her-2/Neu oncogene resulting in more effective
therapy for breast cancer"

    Harry F. Noller, PhD
    Robert Louis Sinsheimer Professor of Molecular Biology
    Director, Center for Molecular Biology of RNA
    University of California, Santa Cruz, California, USA
    Thomas A. Steitz, PhD
    Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
    "For their studies on the structure and function of the ribosome which
showed that the peptidyl transferase was an RNA catalyzed reaction, and for
revealing the mechanism of inhibition of this function by antibiotics."

For further information:

For further information: For interviews with Dr. John Dirks, President &
Scientific Director of the Gairdner Foundation, or with Dr. Dennis Slamon
during his Toronto visit, please contact Bob Ramsay, (4l6) 598-3970, or

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