The Gairdner Award


The day of the award begins with a series of excellent lectures by 2009 Gairdner laureates, rich content of outstanding science with passion for science of those laureates who contributed and those who supported their work; each has his/her own beautiful stories to tell. Lucy Shapiro’s story was outstanding, of a bacterial 3 dimensional dynamic molecular mystery of her life work including collaborations of her husband, a physicist. I know her personally, and her one son is a urologist who worked recently for 3 years at US Naval Hospital in Okinawa, and her daughter-in-law is a marine officer just returned from Afghanistan. What a family she has!

Dr Mori’s story was also moving in that he left Japan from his tenured position because he felt what he was supposed to do then was something wrong and boring; he decided to venture to US; through a lot of struggles, but found a right career he loved as he told us. He was very grateful for his parents who are not wealthy, but supported him to go through university and let him go to US. He of course brought with him his parents, family, and several staff researchers, and it was good to congratulate his entire family.

Dr Yamanaka focused on how he came over through these years after 2 years of clinical training, graduate study in research in Japan, and moved to California for completely new research project. There, he encountered seemingly a totally failure, but hanged on to pursue what may be happening. From unexpected findings with full of struggles, he came back to Nara with three graduate students, then Kyoto, where he finally made his landmark discovery with a few graduate students and technicians in the last few years

Dr Sackett’s historical story of major errors made by excellent clinicians being observers, which includes William Osler. He told me personally, he was also surprised by his findings on Dr Osler.

All lectures reveal core personality of each laureate. The day was ended with unquestionably thoughts-provoking guest, Sydney Brenner, who talked about ‘Humanity Gene’ with his usual sense of humor, but a serious message.

Photo_3 Photo 1:Honorable Ambassador Nishida and Mrs.Nishida
Gairdner 091029 0114Photo 2: From left Dr. Pierre Chartrand, Vice-President, CIHR., Dr Peter Singer (Ref.


In the evening, the award ceremony was held at the Royal Ontario Museum. Proud Ambassador Nishida was on the stage to accompany the ceremony of two Japanese laureates.

After return to the hotel, I had drinks in our hotel bar with Dr Yamanaka and his staff and Dr Mori just dropped by.

It was a very good few days in Toronto for me and for all Japanese science community. This year also celebrates Japan-Canada’s 80th year of Diplomatic Relation. As you may recall, earlier this year Emperor and Empress of Japan visited Canada (Ref.1 ).

I will leave for San Diego early tomorrow morning.