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Source: York University

Gairdner Award winners taking science to high school students at York U

October 23, 2006

Two award-winning medical research scientists will speak to more than 300 high school students from the Greater Toronto Area on Wednesday, giving them a rare glimpse into the worlds of metabolic engineering and cell function.

The event is presented jointly by York University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Gairdner Foundation, which awards some of the most prestigious international awards in medical research.

Dr. Anthony Pawson, a 1994 Gairdner Award winner, will speak about "Discovering how human cells work, and why they go bad." A scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, professor at the University of Toronto and Distinguished Scientist of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Dr. Pawson is renowned internationally for his research into the mechanisms that control cell behaviour. His findings, which were quite contrary to the prevailing wisdom, have transformed how we think about diseases such as cancer.

Dr. Ronald M. Evans, a 2006 Gairdner award winner, will speak about "Nuclear Receptors: Metabolic engineering and the dawn of synthetic physiology." A professor in the Salk Institute’s Gene Expression Laboratory and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Dr. Evans heralded a molecular revolution in 1985 with his cloning and characterization of the first nuclear hormone receptor, work which transformed our understanding of how hormones, fat soluble vitamins and dietary lipids elicit changes in gene expression in health and disease. He has uncovered nearly 50 receptors that represent an important link between diet, exercise and a number of human diseases including cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis. Particularly noteworthy is his discovery of a new hormone that appears to be the molecular trigger controlling the formation of fat cells.

The Gairdner Foundation Lectures at York are being offered to teachers and senior-level science students from a select number of high schools. Established in 1957 by Toronto businessman James Gairdner, the Gairdner Foundation recognizes outstanding contributions by medical scientists around the world whose work will significantly improve quality of life. Some 68 Gairdner winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

Since 2003, the lead national sponsor of the awards has been the CIHR. As the major federal agency responsible for funding health research in Canada, CIHR supports the work of 10,000 researchers in universities, teaching hospitals and research institutes across Canada.

WHAT: Gairdner Foundation Lectures for high school students – Dr. Anthony Pawson and Dr. Ronald Evans

WHEN: Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 10 am to noon

WHERE: Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre, Accolade East building, York University

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 11 faculties and 23 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.


Media: To attend, media must reserve with Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22101 /



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