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Dr. Lewis C. Cantley Wins 2015 Canada Gairdner International Award

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Dr. Lewis C. Cantley, the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, has won the 2015 Canada Gairdner International Award from the Gairdner Foundation for his groundbreaking discovery of a family of enzymes that are fundamental to understanding cancer.

Dr. Lewis C. Cantley
Photo Credit: John Abbott

The Canada Gairdner International Awards are given annually to five biomedical scientists from around the world whose significant contributions to medicine have increased the understanding of human biology and disease. More than 320 scientists have received Canada Gairdner International Awards since their inception in 1959, and of them 82 — or one in four — have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Dr. Cantley will receive his award, which carries a 100,000 Canadian dollar cash prize, on Oct. 29 in Toronto.

"The Canada Gairdner International Award is one of the most prestigious prizes in the world," said Dr. Cantley, who is also the Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor in Oncology Research and a professor of cancer biology in medicine at Weill Cornell. "The fact that my peers had selected me to receive this award is a great honor."

Dr. Cantley is being recognized for his groundbreaking discovery of an enzyme called phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and the signaling pathway that it controls. Dr. Cantley found that human cancers frequently occur due to activation of PI3K, a breakthrough that has led to the development of drugs that target that signaling pathway — the first of which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year. Dr. Cantley predicts that many more PI3K drugs will be approved in the future.

"We believe this will be a game-changer in the war against cancer," said Dr. Cantley, who received his doctorate from Cornell University, "and will make a big impact on patient care."

In addition to the international award, the Gairdner Foundation bestows the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award and the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award. In all, seven scientists were chosen by their peers for the 2015 Canada Gairdner Awards, Canada's only globally known international science accolade.

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