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 eleventh annual Margolese National Brain Disorders Prize is awarded to University of Toronto’s Dr. Sandra Black, who has gained international recognition as a research and clinical trialist leader in stroke and dementia. The Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize is awarded to Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif of the Montreal Heart Institute for his leadership in national and international clinical trials in the field of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular disease.
The eighth annual Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research is awarded to Dr. John Bell of the University of Ottawa for his revolutionary approach to fighting cancer with oncolytic viruses.
Each prize is valued at $50,000, making them among the most lucrative honours bestowed by a Canadian university. The recipients were chosen by a committee of international experts chaired by Dr. Robert McMaster, Vice Dean, Research.
Margolese National Brain Disorders Prize: Dr. Sandra Black
Dr. Sandra Black is an internationally known cognitive and stroke neurologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre at the University of Toronto.
A clinician scientist actively engaged in stroke and dementia trials for 30 years with leadership roles in many international organizations, she is also a physician champion, a system change agent developing the Ontario Stroke System, a benchmark model for organized stroke services. A network builder, she co-founded the Heart and Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery in 2003, and was the inaugural Executive Director, Toronto Dementia Research Alliance from 2012 to 2020, an academic memory clinic collaboration assessing 2,000 patients annually to facilitate research embedded in care.
Appointed Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Director in 2006, she developed Brain Sciences at Sunnybrook into a very successful interdisciplinary academic program. In 2020, she became Scientific Director of the $10 million Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience and Recovery. Her research explains complexity in dementia syndromes, utilizing neuroimaging, genetic, neuropathological, clinical and cognitive measures, especially venular small vessel disease. She has published more than 600 highly-cited publications and her recognitions include many mentorship and achievement awards. She was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2012 and appointed as an Officer, Order of Canada in 2015.
Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize: Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif
Dr. Tardif is a clinician scientist at the Montreal Heart Institute. He is one of the most successful cardiology researchers in Canada having achieved national and international distinctions for his work, including the Order of Canada.
His research focuses on the pathophysiology and treatment of atherosclerosis, using precision medicine, epidemiology, pharmacogenomics, novel imaging and randomized clinical trials to answer pertinent and important questions.
As an international leader in clinical trial implementation and execution, Dr. Tardif has garnered peer-reviewed grants, industry money and local philanthropy. He has developed start-up companies, and built superlative research infrastructure in Montreal, where he has created very large cohorts of patients for genomic and precision medicine testing and has linked with other large data repositories. His work has been highly quoted and some of his clinical trials have informed cardiology guidelines and led to regulatory approval of medications for clinical practice.
Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research: Dr. John Bell
Dr. Bell is a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, a Senior Scientist at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Scientific Director of BioCanRx.
He is one of the visionary scientists behind a revolutionary approach to fighting cancer by developing oncolytic viruses (OVs) as a therapeutic for cancer. He made the discovery that vesicular stomatitis virus is a potent oncolytic virus. These cancer-killing OVs have the potential to dramatically reduce the morbidity and mortality related to cancer and its treatment and improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
Not only has Dr. Bell pioneered the development of OV platforms, but he is a world-leader in the translation of this technology into the cancer clinic by bridging the necessary expertise, infrastructure and collaborative networks. To date, Dr. Bell’s research has led to the initiation of clinical trials with three different OV platforms, ranging from Phase I to Phase III, in Canada, the U.S, and other countries. Dr. Bell is considered a world leader fighting cancer with oncolytic viruses.
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.