You are here: Home / About Us / News and Media / 2008 News / Mount Sinai Hospital researcher Dr. Tony Pawson first Canadian scientist to win prestigious Kyoto Prize

Mount Sinai Hospital researcher Dr. Tony Pawson first Canadian scientist to win prestigious Kyoto Prize

June 18, 2008  – Toronto’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital is proud to congratulate Dr. Anthony (Tony) Pawson, Distinguished Investigator and world-renowned cell biologist, for being the first Canadian scientist to be named a Kyoto Prize Laureate by The Inamori Foundation of Kyoto, Japan.

Dr. Tony Pawson
Dr. Tony Pawson

Tony Pawson ad
A recognition of Dr.
Pawson’s achievement in
The Globe and Mail

“It is an extraordinary honour to receive this year’s Kyoto Prize for our work on communication between human cells,” said Dr. Pawson, a world leader in signal transduction – the way in which cells control one another’s behaviour through chemical signals. “It is a real endorsement of the importance of fundamental scientific discovery in the fight against diseases such as cancer, and it is particularly exciting to see Canadian biomedical research being recognized by such a prestigious award.”

The Kyoto Prize is an international award that honours those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of humankind. It is awarded annually to recipients working in advanced technology, basic sciences, and arts and philosophy. Life sciences is honoured once every four years. Dr. Pawson will be presented with a diploma, a 20-karat gold Kyoto Prize medal and 50 million yen (appx. $484,000 CDN) on November 10, 2008 in Kyoto, Japan.

Dr. Pawson will be joined by fellow Canadian Dr. Charles Margrave Taylor, Kyoto Prize laureate in arts and philosophy; and American Dr. Richard Karp, Kyoto Prize laureate in advanced technology.

“To have an Ontario researcher recognized with this prestigious international award is another example of Ontario’s growing reputation as a world-leader in health research and innovation. Ontario is a magnet for attracting the top minds in the life sciences from around the world, and I am proud to honour this outstanding achievement by Dr. Tony Pawson,” said John Wilkinson, Minister Of Research And Innovation.

Dr. Pawson’s discoveries contribute to every aspect of medical research and have relevance for the understanding and treatment of a host of diseases including cancer, diabetes, and disorders of the immune system. Dr. Pawson’s insights on cancer cell signaling (namely, how to “switch off” growing cancer cells) have underpinned effective new approaches to cancer treatment.

“We are incredibly proud to work alongside Tony. He has revolutionized the understanding of the way human cells work in health and in disease,” said Dr. Jim Woodgett, Director of Research for the Lunenfeld. “This prize is considered the ‘Nobel’ of Japan.”

In 2006, Dr. Pawson was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, the same year that he was named to the Order of the Companions of Honour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, one of only nine Canadians to have received such an honour. He has received international recognition for his research achievements and his list of prestigious awards and honours includes a Premier’s Summit Award for Medical Research, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Dr. H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics (Netherlands), the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (Columbia University) and the Wolf Prize in Medicine (Israel). He has been elected to the Order of Ontario, is a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and of the Royal Society of Canada. He is the author of more than 340 scholarly publications.

From 1981 to 1985, Dr. Pawson was Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. In 1985 he joined the newly established Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, where he became the Director of Research from 2002 to 2005. In 2006, the Lunenfeld named him a Distinguished Scientist.

Candidates for the Kyoto Prize are nominated by international experts from Japan and other countries. Dr. Pawson joins previous Kyoto Prize Laureates, renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, author and linguist Noam Chomsky, computer scientist John McCarthy, and biologists Yasutomi Nishizuka and Sydney Brenner, amongst others.

About the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital

The Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, a University of Toronto affiliated research centre established in 1985, is one of the world’s leading centres in biomedical research. Thirty-two principal investigators lead research in diabetes, cancer biology, epidemiology, stem cell research, women’s and infants’ health, neurobiology and systems biology. For more information on the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, please visit
For more information contact:
Nikki Luscombe 
Communications Specialist 
Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital 
416 586-4800 x 2046