Calvin Stiller to receive Canada Gairdner Wightman Award

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Professor Emeritus Dr. Cal Stiller will receive the 2010 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award in recognition of his contributions to transplantation and diabetes, and as an entrepreneur and builder of institutions enriching Canadian research, including Robarts Research Institute.

The Gairdner Awards are Canada's only international science prizes and are considered one of the world's most prestigious medical research awards. The Wightman award recognizes a Canadian who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science.

Dr. Stiller is Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. A long-standing member of the Western and London Health Sciences Centre communities, he is widely known for his work in establishing the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at University Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre and served as the unit's chief until 1996. He was principal investigator of the landmark Canadian study that established the importance of cyclosporine in transplantation and led to its worldwide use as first-line therapy for transplant rejection. He was also the first to demonstrate the efficacy of immunosuppression in newly diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes, establishing the human disease as an immune disorder.

Dr. Stiller is also being recognized for his pioneering work in establishing Canada's life sciences industry. Here in London, he was instrumental in founding Robarts Research Institute in 1986, together with Dr. Henry Barnett, Dr. Charles Drake, J. Allyn Taylor, Richard Ivey, Walter J. Blackburn and Dr. Ramsay Gunton. He was also a Robarts Scientist.

He went on to co-found two health care funds including the Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund Inc., where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He was also the Founding Chair of the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund, and is currently Chair and co-founder of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and of the Ontario Innovation Trust. He is also past chair of Genome Canada.

Dr. Stiller co-founded MaRS Discovery District and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. He built four venture funds to invest in biotechnology and technology, and is credited with overseeing the growth of the Canadian biotechnology industry from an average annual investment of $50 million in the decade prior to his involvement, to dramatic annual growth reaching over $800 million annually in the following decade.

Dr. Stiller is the recipient of numerous awards including the MEDEC Award (1992), the Order of Canada (1995) and the Order of Ontario (2000). He has received three Honorary Doctorates from McMaster University, University of Saskatchewan and The University of Western Ontario and he will be inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame on Tuesday April 13, 2010 in Calgary.

The Gairdner Awards, which come with a $100,000 cash prize, will be presented in October to Dr. Stiller and the six other international recipients.