"The 2006 awards honor outstanding achievements in our understanding of our cells with major ramifications for cancer, nutrition, auto-immune disease, atherosclerosis and hormone action," said John Dirks, president of the Gairdner Foundation. The awards will be presented on October 26 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.
Joan A. Steitz, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, will be honored for her "discovery of the reactivity of autoimmune sera with nuclear riboprotein particles and elucidation of the rules of small nuclear RNA in gene expression."
Since 1959, the Gairdner International Awards have recognized extraordinary accomplishment in medical science; they are acknowledgements of achievement, rather than grants for the support of future research. The awards honor outstanding contributions by medical scientists worldwide whose work will significantly improve the quality of life. Of the 279 Gairdner winners, 65 have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.
Awardees are chosen in a two-stage process, through two medical advisory committees of leading Canadian and international medical scientists. Each prize carries a cash award of $CDN 30,000 (about $25,700). As part of the Gairdner's mandate to communicate the work of medical researchers, each October, Gairdner winners visit universities across Canada and present academic lectures on their area of expertise.
In 2004, a Gairdner Award went to another member of the Yale faculty, Arthur L. Horwich, M.D., Higgins Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics, and Investigator Howard Hughes Medical Institute for his "fundamental discoveries concerning chaperone assisted protein folding in the cell and its relevance to neurodegeneration."
Since 2003, the lead national sponsor of the Gairdner awards has been the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the major federal agency responsible for funding health research in Canada that supports the work of 10,000 researchers in universities, teaching hospitals and research institutes across Canada.
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