Earlier today, Dr. Jerry Pelletier was one of five researchers honoured with a Canadian Cancer Society Award for Excellence in Cancer Research. The award is the most prestigious prize handed out annually by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).
Pelletier, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, won the Robert L. Noble Prize for outstanding achievements in basic biomedical cancer research. In a statement, the CCS said Pelletier was honoured “for seminal contributions he made about how protein translation begins and is controlled.”
Research shows great promise as cancer treatments
Pelletier is a world-renowned expert in research on translation, the process by which proteins are made. Translation is a critical process for cell growth but when it goes awry, it can lead to cancer. Pelletier also identified several new drugs that can stop proteins from being made and have shown great promise as treatments for a number of different cancers.
“Thanks to his work, new drugs are being tested and developed as therapies to help people with cancer and many other diseases,” said the CCS citation.
Other winners include:
- Benjamin Haibe-Kains, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (Recipient of the Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize)
- Prize Dr. Timothy Whelan, McMaster University (Recipient of the O. Harold Warwick Prize)
- Darren Brenner, University of Calgary (Co-recipient of the William Rawls Prize)
- David Palma, Western University (Co-recipient of the William Rawls Prize)
In its press release, the CCS praised the 2019 award recipients for “driving game-changing advancements in cancer research, particularly in the areas of precision medicine, radiation therapy and drug development. Their work spans across multiple cancer types and fields of research, from understanding the cellular processes underlying cancer to clinical trials that have transformed the standard of care for cancer around the world. Collectively, their efforts are changing the ways we prevent, diagnose, treat and live with and beyond cancer.”
Survival rate on the rise
“Today’s winners have shown tremendous dedication to the cancer cause. Their work has had significant impact on both the cancer research community and the lives of people affected by cancer,” said Dr. Judy Bray, Vice President of Research at CCS. “It is thanks to research advancements made by scientists like our award recipients that the overall cancer survival rate has increased from 55 per cent in the early 1990s to 63 per cent today, and I have no doubt we will continue to see progress as a result of their efforts.”
The Awards for Excellence promote and recognize outstanding achievements and progress in Canadian cancer research. Nominees for the award are evaluated by a selection committee comprised of leading researchers from across the country who serve on CCS’s Advisory Council on Research along with previous award winners. Each award comes with a contribution to the recipient’s research program.
“With nearly 1 in 2 Canadians expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, there is still much more that needs to be done to create a world where no Canadian fears cancer,” said Bray. “That’s why we continue to invest in innovative and impactful cancer research in communities across Canada to help people to live longer and enhance their quality of life. We are grateful to our funded researchers for their tireless work in helping us achieve this goal and to our donors for making all of this possible.”