Government of Canada pays tribute to the country's top health researchers

Attention assignment editors: Health, Science and Photo

OTTAWA (November 17, 2009) – A pioneering biochemist, a renowned child health specialist and a brilliant young cancer researcher are among those being honoured today with Canada's most prestigious health and pharmaceutical research awards. The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, joined Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Dr. Jacques Gagné, Jury President of Prix Galien Canada, to present the 2009 Canadian Health Research Awards and the Prix Galien.

"The Government of Canada applauds the award winners for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions," said Minister Aglukkaq. "These scientists have achieved an extraordinary level of excellence, and their talent, hard work and dedication are helping to make Canada a world leader in health research."

The Canadian Health Research Awards are presented annually by CIHR. The following scientists are being recognized this year:

  • Dr. Nahum Sonenberg, James McGill Professor in Biochemistry at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, is Researcher of the Year for Biomedical and Clinical Research for his pioneering study and analysis of translation control mechanisms, the process by which the genetic information stored in our DNA is turned into proteins. His research has opened the door to new treatments for diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.
  • Dr. Michael Boyle, who holds the Canada Research Chair in the Social Determinants of Child Health at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, is Researcher of the Year for Health Services and Systems and Population Health Research for his tireless efforts to untangle the complex relationship between children's health and their environment, and for his work to improve research techniques and methodology in this area.
  • Dr. Lynne-Marie Postovit, Assistant Professor in cell biology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, receives Canada's Premier Young Researcher Award for her remarkable research into how oxygen levels and other micro-environmental signals influence the behaviour and development of normal and cancer stem cells. Her work has yielded over 20 publications to date and she has been invited to several lectures at international conferences.

"These three researchers have each made invaluable contributions to their fields," said Dr. Beaudet. "They have advanced our understanding of the human mind and body and are helping improve the health and quality of life of all Canadians."

The Prix Galien is the most prestigious award in the field of Canadian pharmaceutical research and innovation. It consists of two prizes: the Research Award and the Innovative Product Award. This year's recipients are:

  • Dr. Donald Weaver, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Clinical Neuroscience at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is receiving the Prix Galien Research Award for his efforts to design novel drug therapies to treat chronic neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's.
  • Pfizer Canada Inc. is receiving the Prix Galien Innovative Product Award for ChampixTM, the first in a new class of prescription medications to help people stop smoking.

"Prix Galien Canada wishes to foster a better understanding of the importance of research and innovation, reinforce a scientific culture and create bridges between the scientific community, industry and institutions," said Dr. Gagné. "By joining forces with CIHR, this year's event will help better promote health research. We are proud to take part in this celebration of successes, victories and excellence."

– 30 –

Media Enquiries:

David Coulombe
Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Telephone: 613-941-4563
Cellphone: 613-808-7526

Joanna Murphy
Delegate producer
Prix Galien Canada
Cellphone: 514-996-5058

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (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.

Prix Galien Canada: The Prix Galien are the highest distinction worldwide in biopharmaceutical research. Referred to as the Nobel Prize of pharmaceutical research, the Prix Galien are given annually to an individual or a team for making a significant contribution to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of illnesses. Created in France 40 years ago, the Prix Galien came to Canada in 1994, making this the first North American country to recognize the efforts and achievements of pharmaceutical research and development. The members of the independent Jury of the Prix Galien Canada are among the most eminent Canadian experts in pharmacy, pharmacology and medicine.