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Canada Gairdner Awards for 2012 announced

Posted on behalf of Hannah Hoag.

Scientists studying biological clocks, neuron communication and autoimmune disease have won this year’s Canada Gairdner Awards.

Each year, the Gairdner Foundation pays tribute to leading biomedical research from around the world, bestowing a $100,000 prize on each of the scientists recognized. This year seven scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada received an award. Recipients of the Gairdner award frequently go onto receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; over the last 10 years 18 of 27 Nobel winners had previously won a Gairdner.

There are three award categories: the International Award, the Global Health Award and the Wightman Award, which is given to a Canadian.

The Canada Gairdner International Awards were presented to five scientists.

Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young won for their contributions to understanding how the circadian clock works. Hall and Rosbash work at Brandeis University, in Waltham, MA and Young is based at The Rockefeller University in New York City. Rosbash is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Thomas Jessell, an HHMI investigator at the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York City, earned an award for identifying the circuit connection between sensory and motor neurons.

Jeffrey Ravetch, from the Rockefeller University in New York City, collected a prize for studying Fc receptors, molecules that help trigger the immune response to fight toxins, bacteria and viruses, but that can also contribute to autoimmune disease.

Brian Greenwood, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in the UK, won the Global Health Award for his work in Africa where he focused on reducing the mortality and morbidity of meningitis, pneumonia in children.

Finally, Lorne Babiuk, Vice-President (Research) at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, received the Wightman Award, which is given to a Canadian who has demonstrated leadership in medicine and medical science. His research on zoonoses and vaccine development has reduced the number of deaths due to infectious diseases, such as rotavirus.

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