Canada's Health Researcher of the Year in Biomedical and Clinical Research – 2009

Dr. Nahum SonenbergDr. Nahum Sonenberg
PhD
James McGill Professor
McGill University

To fix something, you first have to understand how it works. No one's research better illustrates this idea than that of Dr. Nahum Sonenberg.

When Dr. Sonenberg was beginning his PhD studies in the late 1960s, there was a tremendous sense of excitement in the field of genetics. Researchers had just deciphered the genetic code, and Dr. Sonenberg set out to learn more about mRNA translation – the process by which genetic information is turned into proteins. His pioneering research has revealed important information about how the translation process is initiated, and how it is controlled or can be blocked.

By improving our understanding of how the body controls protein production, Dr. Sonenberg opened the door to new treatments for a wide range of diseases. His research has led to a new drug, now in clinical trials, that blocks the translation of proteins required for cell division, thereby stopping the progression of cancer. His work has also led to new treatment strategies in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In addition, he and his research team have made important discoveries about weight regulation and memory formation.

Through his research, Dr. Sonenberg continues to ask questions about the basic biology of the translation process and what it can tell us about health.

Dr. Sonenberg is the James McGill Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and the Goodman Cancer Centre. He received his MSc in Microbiology and Immunology from Tel-Aviv University, and completed his PhD in Biochemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Over the course of his career, he has received numerous honours, including the Killam Prize for Health Sciences and the 2008 Gairdner International Award.

Canada's Health Researcher of the Year Award in Biomedical and Clinical Research honours researchers who have demonstrated excellence in their field. This prestigious award recognizes innovation, creativity, leadership and dedication to health research, providing world-class researchers with funding to pursue critical research and to support and mentor trainees.

Dr. Alain Beaudet, presenter (left), and awardee, Dr. Nahum Sonenberg (right).Dr. Nahum Sonenberg (right) accepts Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year Award in Biomedical and Clinical Research.

Dr. Alain Beaudet, presenter (left), and awardee, Dr. Nahum Sonenberg (right).

Dr. Nahum Sonenberg (right) accepts Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year Award in Biomedical and Clinical Research.