Canada Gairdner Award for MaRS founder

Dr. Calvin Stiller wins Gairdner Award

People are often surprised to learn that much of medical practice relies on observation, judgment and past practice vs. scientific evidence and a deep understanding of human biology.

The world’s scientists are, of course, doing their part to change that: diligently unravelling our complexities right down to the ephemeral electrical and biochemical reactions that keep us going. Testing and translating the most enduring of these insights into better diagnostics, treatment and prevention strategies is the medical holy grail.

Recognizing that holy grail are the Canada Gairdner Awards, which have a track record of identifying significant work early and are the country’s only international science prizes. Announced this week at MaRS, the 2010 awardees — from Baltimore to Bangkok — have made fundamental discoveries that are having a profound impact on the practice of medicine. Check out the full list of winners and their contributions, from enhancing the understanding of cancer biology and heart disease to improving treatment for epilepsy, chronic pain and malaria.

Highlighted among the recipients is Ontario’s own Dr. Calvin Stiller, winner of the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award “for his pioneering work in transplantation and diabetes, and as a remarkable entrepreneur  and builder of  private and public institutions that have greatly enriched the research landscape of  Canada.”

Among his impressive list of accomplishments, Dr. Stiller, C.M., O.Ont., is a founder of MaRS, Chair of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Past Chair of Genome Canada. He has played an enormous role in building the Canadian life sciences industry, including raising four venture funds to invest in biotechnology and technology.

The Canada Gairdner Awards, each of which comes with a $100,000 cash prize, will be presented in Toronto on October 28 to the seven recipients, who will also participate in a national program across 20 campuses October 20-29.