Four 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 13th annual Margolese National Brain Disorders Prize is awarded to Dr. Terrance Snutch from the University of British Columbia, for his combination of ground-breaking research, drug design and development, and clinical and commercial translation – all directly contributing to treatments for brain disorders.
This year’s Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize is awarded to Dr. Robert Beanlands from the University of Ottawa, for his spirit and action as an archetypal clinician-scientist, applying imaging to better understand cardiovascular disease and treatment, while constantly advancing the science and evaluating the evidence to improve care for cardiac patients across Canada and around the world.
The tenth annual Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research is awarded to Dr. David Huntsman from the University of British Columbia, for his outstanding accomplishments and influence in advancing the global standards for subtype-specific approaches to gynecologic cancer research and care transforming the way several oncological diseases are diagnosed and managed.
Also, this year, the Faculty of Medicine is pleased to announce that Dr. Pieter Cullis from the University of British Columbia has received the Sultan Karim Medal of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology. This donor-funded award has been established in honour of Dr. Sultan Karim, a pioneer in the field and professor emeritus in the UBC Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, to promote, recognize, and celebrate a UBC investigator whose efforts are advancing the field of clinical pharmacology.
Each research prize is valued at $50,000, making them among the most prestigious honours bestowed by a Canadian university. The recipients of the Margolese and Dr. Chew Wei Memorial prizes were chosen by a committee of experts chaired by Dr. Robert McMaster, Vice Dean, Research, UBC Faculty of Medicine. The Sultan Karim Medal of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology was chosen on the recommendation of the Dean, UBC Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Terrance Snutch is a professor in the department of psychiatry, a member of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and a founding member of the Michael Smith Laboratories.
As a world-renowned expert in neurobiology, he is in part recognized for his ground-breaking research in the identification and characterization of the voltage-gated calcium channel family underlying signaling responsible for neurophysiological properties. He is further acknowledged for his exceptional contributions in translational research and drug development related to brain disorders, including de novo drug design.
Dr. Snutch’s unique and vast portfolio laid the foundation for broad aspects of calcium channel research today and contributed to unravelling fundamental mechanisms in neurobiology.
One of Canada’s most prolific and visionary innovators, Dr. Snutch has contributed greatly to the design of first-in-class drugs aimed at treating brain disorders, the identification of numerous new molecular targets underlying brain diseases, screening methodologies and improved drug oral formulations, as reflected in over 100 U.S. and international issued patents.
Dr. Rob Beanlands is the Director of the National Cardiac PET Centre at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, a centre that has served as a hub of innovation and defined the de facto cutting-edge in both imaging technology and insight into disease processes. He is a professor in the division of cardiology in the department of medicine, department of radiology (cross-appointment) and department of cellular and molecular medicine (cross-appointment) in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa.
Dr. Beanlands is a recognized leading-edge authority in this field and acknowledged amongst international circles as one of the top five cardiovascular imaging scientists in his field in the world. His leadership brought Canadian researchers together across the country, garnering accolades on the international stage, truly allowing Canada to “own the podium” in this domain. Furthermore, Dr. Beanlands has held influential leadership roles, helping to shape policies in research, knowledge translation and practice.
Dr. David Huntsman holds a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Molecular and Genomic Pathology and has been the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Professor in Gynecologic Oncology since 2011. He is a pathologist trained in cancer genetics and is among Canada’s leading researchers. He was recently elected to the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, reflecting the national and international impact of his research discoveries.
Dr. Huntsman has had a profound and far-reaching impact on cancer control research in Canada and internationally, helping improve the lives of patients affected by cancer around the world. Through combining genetic and pathology approaches, he has redefined our understanding of ovarian and several rare cancers, including hereditary stomach cancer, leading to significant improvements in management. He proposed, developed and promulgated the sub-type specific approach to ovarian cancer research, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment that is now the international standard. His research has been published in prestigious journals and is the basis of clinical innovations used in Canada and beyond.
Dr. Huntsman has achieved distinction for his consistent high-quality research and the direct clinical relevance of his work, including new cancer diagnostics and contributions to an ovarian cancer prevention strategy adopted worldwide.
Dr. Pieter Cullis is internationally recognized as a leader in the development and application of lipid nanoparticle (LNP) drug delivery systems to treat human disease. LNP technology delivers mRNA into the interior of target cells in vivo, enabling the application of mRNA for vaccines and other therapeutics.
Dr. Cullis has published over 400 high-impact papers that have been cited more than 60,000 times, and has mentored more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists.
He is an inventor on more than 100 issued US patents and has one of the strongest records of commercializing research discoveries of any academic investigator in North America. As a result of the companies Dr. Cullis has directly co-founded, nearly 500 jobs have been created in the biotechnology sector in B.C.
Dr. Cullis has also co-founded two not-for-profit enterprises — the Centre for Drug Research and Development and the NanoMedicines Innovation Network — to translate academic discoveries into new therapeutics and diagnostics.
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 passed away 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.
The Sultan Karim Medal of Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology is named for Dr. Sultan Karim, a dedicated researcher and mentor to trainees working at the intersection of obstetrics and gynaecology, pharmacology and therapeutics. Dr. Karim’s foundational contributions to clinical pharmacology inspired many students over the years, including Professor John Climax, who established this medal of excellence to honour his mentor and raise the profile of clinical pharmacology as a specialty field that is critical to translational medicine.