Celebrating 60 Years of Gairdner

Through the decades 1960s
Jacques F.A.P. Miller MB BS PHD DSC
Canada Gairdner International Award 1966
In recognition of his fundamental contributions to our understanding of the role of the thymus in the development of normal immunological mechanisms in early life, and in their maintenance in the adult, and for the stimulus which his studies of the thymus gave to the rapidly developing field of immunobiology.
Melbourne, Australia


Through the decades 1970s
David Baltimore BA PHD
Canada Gairdner International Award 1974
For innovative and significant research on the mechanism of action of viruses in relation to tumor production.
Cambridge, MA, USA


Through the decades 1980s
Canada Gairdner International Award 1989
For contributions to the cloning and sequencing of the gene for the T-cell receptor.
Toronto, ON, Canada


Through the decades 2000s
Nubia Muñoz MD MPH
John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award 2009
For her epidemiological studies that defined the essential role of the human papilloma virus in the etiology of cervical cancer on a global level which led to the development of successful prophylactic vaccines.
Visiting Scientist, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain; Emeritus Professor, National Cancer Institute, Bogota, Colombia


Through the decades 2010s
Huda Y Zoghbi MD
Canada Gairdner International Award 2017
For the discovery of the genetic basis of Rett syndrome and its implications for autism spectrum disorders
Professor, Baylor College of Medicine; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Director, Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, TX, USA


On September 30, 2019, the Gairdner Foundation and L’Oréal-UNESCO welcomed members of the scientific community in Toronto to a Forum on Diversity and Excellence in Science. Programming included interactive discussions and panels on diversity and inclusivity, addressing barriers to success and opportunities to enhance support networks.

You will find the main takeaways from the discussion in the event report below:

We invite you to view and download real-time graphic recordings of the sessions, captured by Annalee Kornelsen of Drawing Change:

Check out event photos on our Flickr account.

The Gairdner Foundation partnered with CSMB and the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC to produce a series of documents celebrating the science of a selection of this year’s Canada Gairdner Awardees.

We invite you to view and share these documents widely, as they highlight the impact science has in our lives and our understanding of the world.

Our thanks to the students and artists who made these articles possible. If you are a teacher and you’d like more materials like this for your students please contact Sommer Wedlock at sommer@gairdner.org

For more information about the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences, please visit https://csmb-scbm.ca/

For more information about the UBC Michael Smith Laboratories, please visit https://www.msl.ubc.ca/



DNA Replication



The Gairdner Foundation will be joining a line-up of extraordinary speakers and organizers in Kigali, Rwanda this November for the 3rd Annual Women Leaders in Global Health Conference.

Having attended last year’s London, UK Conference hosted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Gairdner Foundation is now joining as a silver sponsor for the first major WLGH event in the Global South.   Global health is a significant part of the Gairdner Mission and we celebrate this opportunity to encourage and support all members of the community in the pursuit of excellence.

“The Gairdner Foundation is delighted to partner with  the WLGH 2019 Conference in recognizing, convening and celebrating women leaders in global health. The John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award is a world leading prize for scientists making significant impacts in global health. We are committed to increased equity, diversity and inclusion in all our activities and look forward to ongoing alignment between the missions of WLGH and the Foundation.  Together we can help open opportunities for all individuals and communities to contribute to the health of humanity.” – Dr. Janet Rossant, President & Scientific Director, Gairdner Foundation

We encourage all those involved in the Global Health Community to attend and to take advantage in this exceptional opportunity.  Follow the conference at https://www.wlghconferences.org/ for updates on confirmed speakers, programing developments and opportunities for attendees and sponsors.

Watch @WLGH19 & @ughe_org for all the latest and spread the word on social media and in your networks with:
#WLGH19 #GenderEquity #InvestInWomen #WomenLeaders #GlobalHealth #Rwanda #HealthEquity

Read the Press Release from WLGH and UGHE HERE

April 9, 2019

By Dr. John Dirks, President Emeritus, The Gairdner Foundation

The Gairdner Foundation sadly marks the death of Dr. Sydney Brenner on April 5, 2019  in Singapore. Sydney Brenner was recognized by many as the most influential molecular biologist of our time.

Born in South Africa, Brenner entered the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg at age 15, and pursued a PhD in physical chemistry at Oxford in the early 1950s. In April 1953, a carload of graduate students including Brenner drove to Cambridge to see the Crick-Watson model of DNA, and inspired by this transformative moment, Brenner embarked on a career in the new discipline of molecular biology. In 1957, he joined the Cambridge Cavendish Lab with Francis Crick, contributing to the elucidation  of the  genetic code and the codon, and then while working with François Jacob and Matthew Meselson, to the discovery of messenger RNA, essential in the synthesis of proteins. For these works he received his first Gairdner International Award in 1978.

From the 1980s on, Brenner focused on developmental and genetic biology, establishing the worm C. elegans as a highly successful tool for studying development with exact understanding of the genetics, the nervous system and the cellular turnover in a single species. With John Sulston, he received his second Gairdner International Award in1991. In 2002, Sydney Brenner was awarded the Nobel Prize with John Sulston and Robert Horvitz.

Dr. Brenner was the Guest of Honor at the Gairdner Gala marking the 2002 Gairdner Genome Year. He joined the Gairdner Medical Advisory Committee in 2003, serving for two full terms. During this time Brenner contributed hugely to the annual selection process through his exceedingly broad knowledge of biomedical science.

Sydney Brenner was a charismatic, eloquent speaker and visited some 15 Canadian universities for Gairdner. He spoke precisely and with few, if any, slides. Audiences remained riveted regardless of the length of his presentations, and Sydney also enjoying interspersing his wicked sense of humor. On the occasion of Gairdner and other meetings, my dinners with Sydney and his interesting repartee are remembered fondly by all in attendance. Sydney Brenner was a great friend of the Canada Gairdners and the major thinker in molecular biology in the last 75 years. He will be greatly missed but in the history of biology his impact will remain for all time.