May 19, 2010 (Toronto, ON) Dr. Jeffrey Wrana, Lunenfeld Senior Investigator and the Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, was honoured last night at an awards ceremony held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The Premier’s Summit Awards were presented by Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Honourable John Milloy (Minister of Research and Innovation) to Dr. Wrana and Dr. Janet Rossant, Chief of Research at The Hospital for Sick Children.
“I am thrilled to receive this award, and I feel exceptionally honoured to be counted amongst a group of outstanding scientists,” said Dr. Wrana. “I would like to thank the Ontario government for their strong support of research, as well as my colleagues at the Lunenfeld, for creating an inspirational place to conduct science.”
The Premier’s Summit Award for Medical Research, established in 2005, is one of Canada’s richest prizes in medical research. Each recipient receives $5 million over five years, derived from a $2.5 million contribution from the Award program, and matched by $2.5 million from the sponsoring institution. MaRS administers the Summit Awards on behalf of the Province of Ontario.
“Progress is made through people who have the vision to see beyond the status quo,” said Premier McGuinty. “By imagining new possibilities, taking new risks and finding a better way, these winners have made great achievements that will ultimately change the world for the better. I am proud to support and celebrate their extraordinary accomplishments.”
Dr. Wrana joined the Lunenfeld in 1999, and is internationally recognized for his cancer research, innovation and leadership in biomedical science. His explorations of the interactions of human proteins, and the complex network of pathways that lead to disease, has given scientists and clinicians new ways of thinking about the diagnoses and treatment of cancer. His most recent groundbreaking work has revealed how breast cancer alters these protein networks, providing new opportunities for prognosis and treatment.
Last February, Dr. Wrana developed a new tool called ‘DyNeMo’ that analyzes breast cancer tumours to determine a patient’s best treatment options. In the future, the tool may be used to analyze other types of cancers and enable healthcare professionals to provide more accurate and personalized diagnoses and treatments.
Dr. Wrana also created a leading-edge robotics facility where researchers at the Lunenfeld and across Ontario can analyze the functions of thousands of genes at a time, and rapidly identify the processes important in human diseases including cancer.
"For well over a decade, Jeff has been a leading and prescient innovator at the Lunenfeld, building a state-of-the-art screening facility, developing novel tools for researchers, and maintaining a world-class research program in cell signaling,” said Dr. Jim Woodgett, the Lunenfeld’s Director of Research. “He's a huge asset to Ontario biomedical research and we're honoured that he is a Lunenfeld jewel."
Dr. Wrana is an International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. He has been awarded the Gertrude Elion award from the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Paul Marks Prize in Cancer Research from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Systems Biology, and was elected a Fellow by the Royal Society of Canada.