Renowned Canadian Genomic-Scientist wins prestigious Friesen International Prize in Health Research

    TORONTO, April 14 /CNW/ - Internationally renowned Canadian physician Sir
John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, Oxford University and President of
the UK's Academy of Medical Sciences was today named the 2009 winner of the
Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research.
    His research led to the characterization of genetic susceptibility to
auto-immune diseases, particularly Type 1 Diabetes, Auto-immune Thyroid
Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. This work also
helped in the mapping of genes involved in recognition of antigens that prompt
undesirable immune responses.
    The Prize, established by the Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health
Research in collaboration with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and CBC
Radio, recognizes exceptional innovation by a visionary health leader of
international stature. He will receive the Prize and deliver a public lecture
on September 22, 2009 in Ottawa.
    Dr. Bell completed his undergraduate education at the University of
Alberta and proceeded to Oxford University to study Medicine as a Rhodes
Scholar. He subsequently went to Stanford University, pursuing his interest in
immunology and genetics.
    Dr. Bell has been extensively involved in the development of genetics and
genomics programs in patient-related research across the UK and elsewhere. He
continues to be a prescient force in the search for more personalized medicine
that will shape the future of disease prevention and health care. He is the
founder of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics that emerged as a
leader in Genome-wide Association Studies. These studies are based on large
population samples and high throughput genotyping to identify the combinations
of genetic variants that impart susceptibility for common chronic diseases.
They are now accepted as a fundamental tool in defining the genomic basis of
clinical descriptions and place his achievements alongside other great
scientific innovators of our time.
    Professor Bell has had an extraordinary impact worldwide as evidenced by
the frequency of scientific and policy publications, with over 800 citations
by other authors per year. He provides his counsel to a wide range of panels
and boards for public and the private sector bodies responsible for health
research in Canada, Sweden, Denmark, France, Singapore and the UK. He is
currently a member of the Gates Foundation Global Health Advisory Board. In
recognition of his organizational genius and scientific vision, in 2008 he was
appointed Chair of the Office of Strategic Coordination of Health Research
(OSCHR) by the British Government. In that capacity, Dr. Bell will help focus
research investments and facilitate more efficient translation of Health
Research into economic and social benefit.
    He has continued to stay involved with the planning of Health Research in
Canada having served as Chair of the first CIHR International Review Committee
and in various capacities on Boards and Committees of Genome Canada, the
Alberta Heritage Foundation, the Gairdner Foundation and the Government of

    The Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research was
established in 2005 by the Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(FCIHR) in recognition of Dr. Henry Friesen's distinguished leadership, vision
and innovative contributions to health and health research. The $25,000
Friesen Prize is awarded annually.
    For further information on Friends of CIHR and the Friesen International
Prize, please visit:
    For a full biographical sketch of Prof. Sir John Bell, please see:

For further information:

For further information: To arrange an interview, or for more
information, please contact: Cristina S. Castellvi, Friends of CIHR, (416)

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