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Pawson Named Kyoto Prize Winner in Basic Sciences

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Inamori Foundation announced on Friday that Anthony Pawson, a molecular biologist affiliated with the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto will receive this year’s Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences.
The Kyoto Award is an international award honoring individuals who advance civilization through significant scientific, cultural, and spiritual achievements. To date, it has been presented to 74 individuals working in the basic sciences, advanced technology, and arts or philosophy.
This year, the Basic Sciences prize was targeted at researchers specializing in molecular biology, cell biology, and neurobiology. The award is being given to Pawson in recognition of his contribution to the field of intracellular signal transduction. In ground-breaking research done since the late 1970’s, Pawson, a British-born biologist who is now a citizen of both Canada and the United Kingdom, hypothesized and provided evidence for the role of adaptor molecules in intracellular signal transduction.
Pawson demonstrated the presence and importance of a protein domain called the Src homology 2 or SH2 domain, which influences signal transduction related to cell division and metabolism and has a role in some cancer-like cellular processes.
The work has since influenced research on everything from developmental biology and neurobiology to endocrinology and immunity. His insights into signal transduction have also opened the door for the discovery of compounds that interfere with cell signaling in some cancer cells.
Pawson received his PhD from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London and went on to post-doctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He became an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1981 and moved to Toronto in 1985.
Pawson has received numerous national and international awards in recognition of his contributions to biology, including the 1994 Gairdner Foundation International Prize, a 2004 Excellence Award in Health Research from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and a 2004 Louisa Gross Horwitz award from Columbia University. In 2005, Pawson shared the $100,000 Wolf Prize in Medicine with Tony Hunter and Alexander Levitzki.
Pawson was appointed a Companion of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 and is a fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society of London. He also was a co-founder of Canadian company MDS Proteomics, which later became Protana.
Pawson is one of three laureates in this, the 24th year, of the Kyoto Prize. The other recipients are American computer scientist Richard Karp (Advanced Technology Category) and Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor (Arts and Philosophy Category).
During the week of November 9th, each laureate is expected to receive a diploma, gold Kyoto prize medal, and 50 million yen (about $460,000) at the Kyoto Prize Presentation Ceremony in Kyoto, Japan. The 2008 laureates will also meet in San Diego next March to participate in the eighth annual Kyoto Laureate Symposium.

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