Three Canadian scientists have been recognized by UBC’s Faculty of Medicine for their outstanding scientific accomplishments, and for their potential to make further contributions in their fields.
The twelfth annual Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize is awarded to Dr. Sonia Anand from McMaster University, for her research that has uncovered significant differences in risk factors among ethnically diverse populations, including highlighting the impact of socio-economic disparities on the risk of cardiovascular disease in underserved communities. The Margolese National Brain Disorders Prize is awarded to University of Toronto’s Dr. Anthony Lang, for his tireless work that has transformed Toronto into an international hub for Parkinson’s disease research.
The ninth annual Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research is awarded to Dr. William Foulkes of McGill University, for his wide-ranging and prolific body of work in cancer genetics, which has demonstrated his remarkable ability to link clinical judgment with scientific creativity.
Each prize is valued at $50,000, making them among the most prestigious honours bestowed by a Canadian university. The recipients were chosen by a committee of international experts chaired by Dr. Robert McMaster, Vice-Dean, Research, UBC Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Sonia Anand is a professor in the division of Cardiology and holds a Canada Research Chair in Ethnic Diversity and Cardiovascular Disease, and a Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada endowed Chair in Population Health at McMaster University.
The findings from Dr. Anand’s research have been incorporated into guidelines and transformed clinical practice including the recent Canadian Cardiovascular Society Guidelines in peripheral artery disease (PAD) that she co-chaired and published in May 2022.
Her leadership in flagship studies of ethnic differences in cardiovascular risk factors for the past two decades resulted in increased recognition of the high-risk factors among people of South Asian origin, and First Nations people living in Canada. Her work in partnership with the Six Nations of the Grand River led to projection of the future burden of cardiovascular (CV) disease (including kidney disease), leading to increased health service provision for such conditions. This also led to the formation of a national study of the causes of early onset vascular diseases in eight First Nations communities across Canada– showing the strong impact of the social disadvantage on CV risk factors, and protective factors including social support, education, and trust in communities.
Dr. Anand has consistently shown her commitment to advancing the understanding of the determinants of cardiovascular risk in women and in diverse ethnic populations. Her work has transformed the way clinicians in North America, Europe, and elsewhere approach antithrombotic treatment to save lives and reduce limb loss in patients with PAD. She is a scientist of international repute who has made important contributions to the fields of vascular medicine and global population health.
Dr. Anthony Lang is a professor of Neurology at the University of Toronto and a global leader in Parkinson’s disease research. He is the Director of Edmond J. Safra Program for Parkinson’s Disease, the Rossy Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Centre and the Morton and Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH), the Jack Clark Chair for Parkinson’s Disease Research at the University of Toronto, the Lily Safra Chair in Movement Disorders at the University Health Network in Toronto, and a past Director of the Division of Neurology at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Lang has also initiated and built an internationally recognized program that collectively covers all aspects of movement disorders research, from basic science, genetics, epidemiology, diagnostic accuracy, advanced imaging and experimental therapeutics.
As a highly cited and influential expert, Dr. Lang has been instrumental in the development of rating scales and diagnostic criteria for Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, which have been widely adopted and are now routinely used internationally as a standard, critical component of research studies and clinical trials evaluating both disease-modifying and symptomatic therapies. Dr. Lang was also the lead/senior author on a number of important clinical trial reports and highly cited review papers describing and analyzing important clinical features associated with Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, in addition to contributing important descriptions of neurological disorders that were previously unrecognized or poorly documented.
Dr. William Foulkes is a professor in the Departments of Medicine, Human Genetics and Oncology at McGill University, the Director of the Program in Cancer Genetics in the Departments of Oncology and Human Genetics, and has laboratories at Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.
Dr. Foulkes has worked in the area of inherited susceptibility to cancer for over 25 years, transitioning his translational research from cancer gene mutation discovery to clinical applications.
He has made unique contributions and seminal discoveries in cancer genetics, such as describing the phenotype of BRCA1 related breast cancer, which formed the conceptual framework for treating BRCA1 cancers in a different way clinically. His lab discovered and characterized cancer predisposing founder mutations in Montreal populations and identified the relationship of genotype to phenotype in DICER1 Syndrome, which provided molecular diagnoses for multiple childhood cancers. His discovery of mutations in SMARCA4 as the cause of inherited small cell ovarian cancer was also a critical contribution to his field of research.
The Margolese prizes were created by an estate gift to UBC by Leonard Herbert Margolese to recognize Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to the treatment, amelioration or cure of brain or heart disorders. Margolese, who died in 2000, was a Vancouver businessman who had a heart condition and whose brother had Alzheimer’s disease.
The Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research is named for a Hong Kong physician who retired to Vancouver in 1988. An obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Chew grew determined to improve outcomes for people with cancer. After his death in 2009, his family and friends sought to honour his goals by endowing a Faculty of Medicine prize in cancer research, as well as a chair and a professorship in gynecologic oncology.