CIFAR President & CEO Dr. Alan Bernstein has been awarded the 2017 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research for his pioneering cancer research and institutional leadership.
The Friesen Prize, established in 2005 by the Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (FCIHR), recognizes “exceptional innovation by a visionary health leader of international stature.” The $35,000 Friesen Prize is awarded annually.
The prize recognized Dr. Bernstein’s contributions as an internationally renowned molecular biologist.
“His laboratory identified genes that regulate blood stem cell function and that are involved in human cancers, including leukemias, melanomas and sarcomas. They also pioneered and developed techniques for introducing genes into blood stem cells and some of the earliest evidence for the multi-stage nature of cancer,” said FCIHR.
The prize also recognizes Dr. Bernstein’s leadership in Canadian and international scientific communities. Between 1994 and 2000, Dr. Bernstein was Director of Research at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto. In 2000, Dr. Bernstein was appointed the inaugural President & CEO of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. In 2012, Dr. Bernstein became the president of CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research), Canada’s global research institute that brings together some of the world’s preeminent researchers to address important questions of our time.
Born in Toronto, Dr. Bernstein received his BSc and PhD from the University of Toronto. Following postdoctoral research in London, England, he returned to Canada to join the research staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital before moving to the Lunenfeld in 1985. He has published more than 220 peer-reviewed and highly cited articles in the world’s top scientific journals. Dr. Bernstein has served on numerous boards and advisory committees in Canada and the United States. Currently, he serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Bernstein has received many national and international awards for his exceptional contributions to science. They include six honorary degrees, fellowships with both the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Science, an appointment as Officer of the Order of Canada, the Award of Merit from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Cancer Research, and the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award. He was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2015.
Dr. Alan Bernstein will deliver a public Friesen Lecture this fall in conjunction with the annual meetings of collaborating Scientific Societies and will also visit a number of Canadian universities and institutes.
The 2016 Friesen Prize was awarded to Janet Rossant, Co-Director of CIFAR’s Humans & the Microbiome program and a Senior Scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children.