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March 25, 2015

Prestigious research prize for Michael N. Hall

The five winners of this year’s “Canada Gairdner International Award” were announced on March 25th, 2015. One of the laureates is Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. The award recognizes his discovery of the protein kinase TOR - Target of Rapamycin - and its role as a key regulator of cell growth. With this prize the Gairdner Foundation recognizes each year research scientists for their groundbreaking discoveries in the medical sciences.

Prof. Michael Hall, winner of the Canada Gairdner International Award 2015.

The series of successes of Michael N. Hall, Professor of Biochemistry at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, continues. In 2009, he received the Louis-Jeantet Prize, the most prestigious award for European medical science. Three years later he was awarded the highest Swiss distinction, the Marcel Benoist Prize. With the announcement of the “Oscars of Science” – the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences – last year, he received world-wide recognition for his fundamental scientific discoveries in the field of cell biology. Now he can count the “Canada Gairdner International Award”, one of the most important international prizes in science, among his impressive collection of awards.  This year, the Gairdner Foundation is honoring five scientists for their medically significant discoveries with its award endowed with the equivalent of approximately 75’000 Swiss francs.

Highest level biomedical research

For almost 30 years, Michael N. Hall has been working at the Biozentrum. Here he discovered the protein kinase TOR – Target of Rapamycin - and its role in cell growth control. “It all began when we found the molecular target of the immunosuppressive and anticancer drug rapamycin,” explains Hall, describing the early days of his research. “Unexpectedly, it then became obvious that this protein kinase is a key player in regulating cell growth in various ways.” The discovery of TOR was not only a major milestone in basic research but also proved to be of clinical relevance. “TOR has also been implicated in aging and in a wide variety of diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease,” says Hall. “I am eager to see whether newly developed TOR inhibitors are effective and will provide better treatment options for cancer patients.”

Formal award presentation

With the prize from the Gairdner Foundation, Hall once again receives one of the highest acknowledgments for his excellent and comprehensive research, reaching from the discovery to the elucidation of the importance of TOR for cell growth and metabolism and further to providing answers to medical issues. “There is no greater reward for a scientist than to have his work recognized by his peers – and this is what the Gairdner Award is,” says Hall clearly excited by the distinction. The formal prize presentation will take place on October 29th, 2015, at a ceremony in Toronto, Canada.

The research award

The Canada Gairdner Awards were created in 1959 to recognize and reward the achievements of researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life. The prize is awarded annually and the winners are selected by an international committee. During its history, the prize has also been previously awarded to two scientists from the Biozentrum: In 1987 to Prof. em. Walter Gehring and in1998 to Prof. em. Gottfried Schatz.

Video link

Link: Gairdner Foundation

Contact: Communications, Katrin Bühler