Handing Out ‘Canada’s Nobel Prize in Medicine’

To date, the Gairdner Foundation has handed out awards to 387 laureates, nearly a quarter of whom have gone on to win a Nobel Prize.

 |  Transcript [PDF]

“The Gairdner Foundation is like Canada’s Nobel Prize in Medicine,” says biomedical engineer Molly Shoichet, university professor at the University of Toronto and member of the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award Committee.

The Gairdner Foundation gives seven awards every year to Canadian and international researchers, and many of them go on to win the Nobel prize. To date, 387 awards have been given to laureates from 35 countries, and 92 of them have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes. Their remarkable discoveries have changed how we approach health and medicine.

“Gairdner Award winners are awesome. They’re so inspiring,” adds Shoichet. “They’re at the cutting edge of research, doing things just because they’re curious, advancing knowledge, and it’s only years later that we realize how important it is.”

Janet Rossant agrees that this recognition is needed to shine a light on some of the world’s most innovative medical researchers. She’s the President & Scientific Director of the Gairdner Foundation and Chief of Research Emeritus at SickKids Hospital.

“Science is something that people do because they love it. They work in the lab all day, all night,” says Rossant.

“They make amazing discoveries that are going to change our world. We need to recognize those people. We recognize our heroes in every other field of endeavour. Let’s recognize scientists.”

Biologist Connie Jean Eaves and biochemist Susan Band Horwitz are both Gairdner laureates, and despite their groundbreaking work, they were both surprised when they got the call.

“Winning the Gairdner is something that I never, in my wildest dreams, expected,” says Band Horwitz. “I was speechless.”

“I was just overwhelmed when I was contacted, and told that I’d been given one,” echoes Eaves. “It’s always amazing to meet the people behind the work and find out, you know, they’re just real people, and they like to dance, and they like to sing, and they like to laugh, and they can even get a little tearful on the stage.”

All Gairdner laureates also engage in outreach programs across Canada, sharing how their research impacts lives. They speak to the public and to policymakers, helping build science literacy and spreading inspiration.

These are the interactions that shape the future of research and policy, often shifting the tides in ways we will only realize years later.

‹ Previous post
Next post ›

Research2Reality is a groundbreaking initiative that shines a spotlight on world-class scientists engaged in innovative and leading edge research in Canada. Our video series is continually updated to celebrate the success of researchers who are establishing the new frontiers of science and to share the impact of their discoveries with the public.