Nobel Laureate and Friesen Prize Winner Urges Importance of Medical Science to Change Global Health

    TORONTO, Sept. 19 /CNW/ - Nobel Prize winning scientist and renowned
cancer researcher, Dr. Harold Varmus, is optimistic that global health in
developing countries will improve by encouraging medical science within these
countries, increasing access to medical information, and by funding large
networks of scientists to help determine the best means to control disease.
    Dr. Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in
New York, will deliver his unique prognosis for global health as the 2008
winner of the prestigious Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health
Research next week. Dr. Varmus is the former Director of the United States
National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he showed exceptional leadership and
a world vision during the transformational period of innovation in genomics,
international and multi-disciplined partnerships, population health, clinical
research, and legislative support that more than doubled the public investment
in health research.
    "The importance of health as a key indicator of economic success is now
widely understood by developing countries and those nations who help them,"
Dr. Varmus said. "As a result, the investments by governments and foundations
around the world have expanded significantly over the past decade. This is a
major step forward in changing history."
    As part of his own personal effort to promote science to address global
health, Dr. Varmus has chaired the Scientific Board of the Grand Challenges in
Global Health, an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
Wellcome Trust, Foundation for the NIH, and the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research (CIHR). This initiative has awarded nearly $450 million to over forty
research teams to achieve seven long-term goals to improve health in the
developing world: improving vaccines; creating new vaccines; controlling
insect vectors; improving nutrition; limiting drug resistance; curing
infection; and measuring health status.
    To ensure that new scientific knowledge and sound health policy are
effectively shared around the world, Dr. Varmus established a public digital
library of scientific papers called PubMedCentral at the NIH, and is also the
co-founder and chair of the Public Library of Science, a publisher of the most
prestigious journals in medicine and biology in the world that are open to the
    "Leaders in medicine are working with developing countries to build
strong centers of research and training in their own nations, such as the
Malaria Research and Training Center in Mali," said Dr. Varmus. "This is the
key to changing the future of developing nations and global health - by
enabling these countries to contribute directly to the health of their own
    Dr. Varmus is scheduled to speak on this topic in a public forum on
Wednesday, September 24, 4:30 pm, at the MaRS Discovery District.
    The Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research is a
collaboration of the Friends of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(FCIHR) and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. For more information,
please visit the FCIHR website at

For further information:

For further information: To arrange an interview, or for more
information, please contact: Kathryn Hendrick, Media Relations, (416) 277-6281
or; Maureen Shaughnessy Kitts, Friends of the CIHR, (416)
999 6095; Cristina S. Castellvi, Friends of CIHR, (416) 506-1597

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