$5 million goes to Toronto leaders in genomics, lung cancer research

Prestigious award funds innovation

On Tuesday evening, the research and innovation community came to the MaRS Centre to celebrate the 2008 Premier’s Innovation Awards — three prestigious awards programs that support and promote ideas and discoveries that build on Ontario’s innovation strengths. The Premier’s Innovation Awards include the Premier’s Catalyst, Discovery and Summit Awards. The Premier’s Summit Award program is administered by MaRS on behalf of the Province.

Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson joined MaRS Board Chair John Evans and our CEO, Ilse Treurnicht to celebrate some of the best and brightest minds in Ontario’s research and innovation community.

These award programs are a key part of Ontario’s strategy to attract and retain our best and brightest and build on our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Premier Dalton McGuinty. “By supporting world-class talent here at home, we’re ensuring Ontario remains the place to be for years to come.”

The 2008 recipients of the award are:

  • Dr. Stephen Scherer, Senior Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children and Professor at the University of Toronto
  • Dr. Frances Shepherd, Senior Staff Physician and Group Leader for the Lung Cancer site at Princess Margaret Hospital, University Heath Network.

The Premier’s Summit Award recognizes researchers that have made a substantial and distinguished contribution to medical research in Ontario, and show promise to do even more. It’s a $25 million program that provides extraordinary support to a small number of outstanding medical researchers, helping attract them to or retain them in Ontario and enabling them to significantly expand their research programs.

Each recipient receives $5 million over a five-year period, derived from a $2.5 million contribution from the Award program matched by $2.5 million from the sponsoring institution. The selections are made by an internationally distinguished panel from the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

I agree with Ilse when she said: “The extraordinary achievements of this year’s winners stand for remarkable creativity, excellence and a bright future for our province. Without doubt, by investing in their talents we will make a difference in the world, and we should all be proud that these pioneering research and innovation leaders live and work in Ontario.”

This year’s winners join the 2007 recipients:

  • Dr. John Dick, University Health Network
  • Dr. Tak Mak, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network
  • Dr. Anthony Pawson, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hopital
  • Dr. Peter St George-Hyslop, University of Toronto and University Health Network

In his acceptance speech, Steve Scherer said, “I am indebted to the Ontario government, the taxpayers of Ontario and the Hospital for Sick Children for entrusting with me these funds that will allow me the freedom to conduct experiments that typically I can only dream about. I am beholden to all of you to make the next five years the most creative and productive of my career.”

The research focus of the six Award recipients spans from lung cancer research, to genomics, to Alzheimer’s disease. They are all poised to do more groundbreaking work and their contributions have the potential to improve human health worldwide.

MaRS will be holding a panel discussion with past and present Summit Award winners about the impact of medical discoveries on health outcomes at “Science at the Summit” on May 27, 2008 between noon-2pm. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. David Naylor, President, University of Toronto.

For more on the event, and the Premier’s Summit Award program, visit www.marsdd.com/premiersummit