MONTREAL — Pioneering HIV/AIDS researcher Mark Wainberg of the Jewish General Hospital’s Lady Davis Institute (LDI) and McGill University has been awarded the $100,000 2012 Killam Prize in health sciences.
The Canada Council annually names five eminent Canadian scientists and scholars in different fields as Killam winners for career achievement and expectation of future outstanding research.
Wainberg is being recognized for his discovery and development of one of the most valuable drugs in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the compound 3TC.
He was also the first in Canada to isolate HIV from infected individuals, to conduct direct research on the virus and to describe the problem of HIV resistance to antiviral drugs.
One of the most productive researchers in the field worldwide, Wainberg recently shed light on the molecular mechanisms responsible for HIV’s resistance to antiretroviral drugs, and contributed to the development of several new promising compounds.
He is also currently collaborating on projects aimed at slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa.
Wainberg is the past director of the LDI and currently heads its HIV/AIDS research. He is also director of the McGill AIDS Centre and a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the university.
“I am very honoured yet humbled to receive this recognition and to be in the company of so many of Canada’s elite scientists who have received this award before me,” Wainberg said.
“I hope that political leaders at all levels of government in Canada will understand the need to maintain strong funding for medical research toward the conquest of all human disease and suffering.”
LDI director Dr. Roderick McInnes said Wainberg’s research “has made a valuable contribution to treating and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout Canada and around the world. We are just extremely proud that our institute has served as home to his accomplishments.”
Added McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum: “Not only is [Wainberg] an eminent scientist whose research has saved countless lives, he is also a tireless AIDS advocate on the international scene whose dedication is an inspiration to all.”