Canadian cancer researchers win prestigious award for their stem cell research

September 19, 2005

OTTAWA (September 19, 2005) The Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh, Minister of Health, the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry and Dr. Alan Bernstein, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), offered their congratulations to Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch for receiving the 2005 Albert Lasker Award. The award is considered to be 'America's Nobel Prize,' and is one of the most distinguished scientific honours given for outstanding contributions to health research and public service.

"The Albert Lasker Award recognizes world-leading scientists who have made an exceptional contribution to the understanding, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases," said Minister Dosanjh. "I send my congratulations to Drs. Till and McCulloch, and thank them on behalf of all Canadians."

"The Government of Canada has made significant investments in R&D to generate knowledge, train highly qualified personnel and encourage commercialization," said Minister Emerson. "This prestigious award highlights the great work of both scientists and recognizes Canada's contribution to the international scientific community."

Drs. Till and McCulloch are being honoured for their groundbreaking discovery demonstrating the existence of stem cells in the blood-forming system. In the early 1960s, their discovery laid the foundation for human bone marrow transplantation for patients with leukemia and other cancers.

"Drs. Till and McCulloch motivated me as a young scientist - and continue to influence an entire generation of Canadian health researchers," says Dr. Bernstein, a former student of Dr. Till at the University of Toronto and the Ontario Cancer Institute.

The award will be presented to Drs. Till and McCulloch at a prestigious ceremony on Friday, September 23 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City, NY.

"The pioneering stem cell discovery made by Drs. Till and McCulloch opened up the entire stem cell field. The Lasker Foundation's recognition of their pioneering research almost 40 years after the research was carried out, is a measure of just how far ahead of their time they were, " said Dr. Bernstein. It is so appropriate that this announcement take place on the 25th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope, for their groundbreaking research has truly been one of the most important advances in cancer research."
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About CIHR The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. Its objective is to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to close to 10,000 health researchers and trainees in every province of Canada. http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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