H. Robert Horvitz SB, PhD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 1999
"In recognition of their pioneering contribution to our understanding of apoptosis."

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA


Professor of Biology and Howard Hughes Investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Horvitz obtained SB degrees in Mathematics and Economics from MIT in 1968 and his PhD from Harvard University in 1974. During his post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Sydney Brenner, (Gairdner Awardee 1978, 1991), Dr. Horvitz began using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a simple model system to study development. In 1986, Dr. Horvitz described the genetic basis of programmed cell death in the development of this organism. He discovered many of the regulatory genes controlling apoptosis and showed that similiar genes exist in humans. Horvitz's work definitively showed that apoptosis was a genetically regulated mechanism and has subsequently led to the discovery of countless novel death signalling pathways whose dysregulation directly contributes to human disease. He has consistently published in high-quality journals and has served on many editorial boards, visiting committees and advisory committees. He has received numerous awards for his accomplishments, including the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Jr. Prize in 1998. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as well as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology.