Samuel Weiss PhD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2008
"For his seminal discovery of adult neural stem cells in the mammalian brain and its importance in nerve cell regeneration."

University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Dr. Samuel Weiss is Professor and Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) Scientist in the Departments of Cell Biology & Anatomy and Pharmacology & Therapeutics at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine.  He is the inaugural Director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, a partnership between the Faculty of Medicine and the Calgary Health Region, whose mission is to translate innovative research and education into advances in neurological and mental health care.

In 1978, Dr. Weiss received his BSc in Biochemistry at McGill University and in 1983 completed his PhD in Chemistry (Specialization: Neurobiology) at the University of Calgary.  Following post doctoral fellowships (1983-1988), funded by AHFMR and the Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC), at the Centre de Pharmacologie-Endocrinologie, Montpellier, France, and at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont. Dr. Weiss was appointed Assistant Professor and MRC Scholar at The University of Calgary in 1988.

Two major discoveries are the hallmarks of Dr. Weiss' research career.  In 1985, together with Dr. Fritz Sladeczek, Dr. Weiss discovered the metabotropic glutamate receptor - now a major target for pharmaceutical research and development for neurological disease therapies.  In 1992, Dr. Weiss discovered neural stem cells in the brains of adult mammals.  This research has lead to new approaches for brain cell replacement and repair.  Dr. Weiss sits on numerous national and international peer review committees, has authored many publications, holds key patents in the neural stem cell field and has founded two biotechnology companies.  In 2002, Dr. Weiss was awarded the Fondation IPSEN (France) prize in Neuronal Plasticity and in 2004 he received the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies Presidents' Award in Life Sciences Research.

Dr. Weiss' current research focuses on the cellular, molecular and in vivo biology of neural precursors, and on the direct regulation of intrinsic adult neural stem cells and functional recovery in animal models of brain and spinal cord injury or disease.  Two new research avenues are directed towards: (1) elucidating the role for new adult neurons in the formation of social memories and (2) understanding adult human brain tumour stem cell biology, in particular the mechanisms of autocrine growth factor signalling that lead to uncontrolled growth.