From the frontlines of cancer research to the war against parasitic diseases in remote corners of the globe, the 2014 Gairdner Awards offer a remarkably diverse and telling snapshot of today’s medical research landscape.
Announced on Wednesday, the awards are known internationally as Canada’s most prestigious science prize with an uncanny track record for picking top-flight researchers, many of whom go on to win a Nobel.
“They’ve, by and large, been right about whom they’ve selected. Because of that, it’s a little bit shocking that they selected me,” said Titia de Lange of Rockefeller University in New York, who was named one of six Gairdner International Award winners for seminal contributions to research. Two additional Gairdner Awards were given specifically for a medical advance that has benefited people in the developing world and for outstanding leadership in medical research in Canada.
The Gairdner Awards, each of which comes with a $100,000 prize, will be presented in October.
During an announcement presentation in Toronto on Wednesday, the Canadian winner, Salim Yusuf, noted that the awards have in the past been known for honouring basic science. His own work, which involves conducting global-scale clinical trials for treatments of cardiovascular disease, is more immediately related to patient outcomes.
“I’m glad to see that saving lives is now a basic science,” Dr. Yusuf quipped.
Indeed, in this year’s array of winners, it’s not hard to find represented the top health concerns of Canadians, including heart and stroke, cancer, inflammatory disease and degenerative disease.
The accompanying graphic is a quick guide to some of the ways this year’s Gairdner winners have made an impact on health.