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For Immediate Release


Nov. 27, 2008

Ministry of Technology, Trade and Economic Development




VANCOUVER – A pre-eminent B.C. health researcher who has received a national award named in honour of another famous B.C. scientist deserves British Columbia’s thanks for his innovation, creativity and dedication, Ida Chong, Minister of Technology, Trade and Economic Development, said today.


            “Michael Hayden’s discoveries relating to how gene mutations cause diabetes, Huntington’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and many more disorders have moved medicine a giant step forward towards understanding, and some day curing, these afflictions,” said Chong, who is minister responsible for research. “I congratulate Dr. Hayden for his contributions both to human health, and to the strength of life sciences research in B.C. and across Canada.”


Hayden was named Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year in biomedical and clinical research by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research last week. The honour includes a $500,000 Michael Smith Prize in Health Research, which Hayden plans to use for trainee awards in global health, mental health, rare diseases, and biotechnology and entrepreneurship. Smith, who like Hayden was a professor at the University of British Columbia, was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993 for discovering and developing a crucial technique used in genetic engineering.


As well as teaching at UBC, Hayden is also director of the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at the Child & Family Research Institute, which is celebrating the opening of the $58.1-million Translational Research Building in Vancouver today. Funding for the building, which also houses the newly formed B.C. Mental Health & Addictions Research Institute, includes $7.7 million from the provincial government.


“Investing in research is critical to our province’s future – especially when that research gives hope to young people whose lives are just beginning,” Chong said. “As of today, researchers have a brand-new building that allows teams of experts from various fields to pool their knowledge and ideas to solve health issues facing children and their families as well as mental health conditions across the age spectrum.”


Other researchers connected with the Child & Family Research Institute and the B.C. Mental Health & Addictions Research Institute have won awards and honours this year for their work in everything from diabetes and obesity research to genetic counselling for families affected by major mental illness.


“What we’re seeing at these two research institutes is an example of excellence attracting excellence, which is why B.C. is becoming a magnet for top-calibre scientists,” Chong said. “From the life sciences to alternative energies, our province’s researchers are opening new doors every day to a better future for people everywhere on the planet.”


The Michael Smith Prize in Health Research was first awarded in 2002. Since that time, three British Columbians have won the award. The two earlier winners are Brett Finlay, a professor of microbiology and biochemistry in the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC; and Robert Hancock, professor of microbiology and immunology, also at UBC. Both specialize in research relating to infectious disease.


Since 2001, the Province has invested $1.7 billion in research and innovation, which has leveraged another $1 billion in research funding from other sources.




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Gordon Williams

Communications Director

250 952-0152

250 413-7316 (cell)


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