Research awards

The Canadian Cancer Society promotes and recognizes excellence and outstanding achievements in cancer research.


Since 1993, we have acknowledged some of the country’s best researchers with our Canadian Cancer Society Awards for Excellence. We are proud to honour these talented men and women who have played a key role in the advancement of cancer research.


These individuals have made rich and meaningful contributions, whether in advancing biomedical cancer research or conducting research that has made a major impact in cancer control in Canada. Congratulations to all our award winners!  

Robert L. Noble Prize

The Robert L. Noble Prize is given for outstanding achievements in basic biomedical cancer research. It honours Dr Noble, an esteemed Canadian investigator whose research in the 1950s led to the discovery of vinblastine, a widely used anticancer drug. At the time, vinblastine was one of the most effective treatments available for Hodgkin lymphoma.

The award comes with a $20,000 contribution to the recipient’s research program.

Dr Poul Sorensen, 2016 recipient

Dr Poul SorensenDr Poul Sorensen has a worldwide reputation in pediatric oncology research. His outstanding work has focused on the molecular abnormalities that underlie childhood sarcomas and brain cancers, and adult cancers of the breast, brain and prostate.

The diversity of Dr Sorensen’s research program is remarkable, leading to important advances in both cancer genetics and cancer biology. Early in his career, Dr Sorensen discovered several new genetic alterations in solid childhood cancers (like Ewing’s sarcoma and Wilms tumour), which typically have less genetic complexity than adult tumours. He used these findings in an innovative way to better understand the biology of adult cancers. For example, Dr Sorensen identified the ETV6-NTRK3 gene fusion in both childhood sarcoma and a form of breast cancer, which pointed to a new treatment strategy. Dr Sorensen has also used his genetic findings to develop new tests to improve the classification of childhood cancers, which are used by clinicians around the world. More recently, Dr Sorensen drew attention to the crucial role of cancer proteins in cellular stress responses that allow cancer to grow and spread.

Dr Sorensen is a prime example of excellence in cancer research and demonstrates continued dedication to the scientific community. He regularly volunteers his expertise on grant review panels, including those of the Canadian Cancer Society. He is also recognized for his extraordinary mentorship and commitment to training the next generation of excellent scientists. Dr Sorensen is a keen and energetic researcher whose work is revealing new treatment targets in cancer and leading to new tools expected to have a concrete impact on cancer care. 

O. Harold Warwick Prize

The O. Harold Warwick Prize is given for outstanding achievements in cancer control research. It honours Dr Warwick, a pioneering researcher in cancer control and treatment, and the first executive director of the former National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society.

The award comes with a $20,000 contribution to the recipient’s research program.

Dr Mary Gospodarowicz, 2016 recipient

Dr Mary GospodarowiczDr Mary Gospodarowicz is a leading radiation oncologist whose devotion to advancing cancer control is recognized worldwide. Her drive to optimize treatment for genitourinary cancers and lymphomas has changed how they are managed, improving patient outcomes.

Dr Gospodarowicz has demonstrated exceptional dedication and leadership in radiation oncology for over 30 years. Early on, she recognized the potential long-term risks of radiation therapy, which motivated her to define the best ways to integrate radiation into cancer management. In the 1990s, Dr Gospodarowicz’ pioneering research on testicular cancer changed the paradigm for how it should be treated. This research led to a new approach that limited radiation therapy after surgery in low-risk patients to minimize harmful side effects. Her leadership in clinical trials is reflected in a landmark study that found an increased risk of certain cancers in testicular cancer survivors after radiation therapy. In addition to these accomplishments, Dr Gospodarowicz has been a champion for achieving global consensus on cancer staging. She served as an editor of the 7th edition of the TNM Classification of Malignant Tumours (2011), which has been cited over 11,000 times.

Dr Gospodarowicz’ service to the scientific community has been outstanding. Notably, her involvement in committees of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG; formerly the NCIC Clinical Trials Group) has positioned her to guide cancer research that truly makes a difference. She has also been instrumental in establishing a global task force to advocate for access to radiation therapy worldwide, especially in low- or middle-income countries. Dr Gospodarowicz is known to be a caring physician and an exemplary ambassador for cancer research.

William E. Rawls Prize

The William E. Rawls Prize is given to a young investigator whose outstanding contributions have the potential to lead to, or have already led to important advances in cancer control. It honours Dr Rawls, past president of the former National Cancer Institute of Canada. His research focused on viruses, particularly those involved in chronic diseases and cervical cancer.

The award comes with a $20,000 contribution to the recipient’s research program. 

Dr Catherine Sabiston, 2016 recipient

Dr Catherine SabistonDr Catherine Sabiston is a leading researcher in sport, exercise and health psychology who focuses on promoting physical activity in people living with and beyond cancer. Her research is recognized internationally for pushing boundaries and impacting both knowledge and practice.

Although physical activity can help people with cancer in many ways, most of them do not get enough to benefit. Dr Sabiston aims to understand the links between physical activity and mental health, with a special focus on cancer survivors. Dr Sabiston is well known for her highly cited work on psychological growth among breast cancer survivors. Her study of the psychosocial experiences of breast cancer survivors involved in dragon boating was published in a top exercise psychology journal. In ongoing work, Dr Sabiston is studying sedentary behaviour in breast cancer survivors to help develop training materials for healthcare providers to improve patient counselling. Through the ActiveMatch initiative, she has also created an online system to connect survivors as exercise partners to help them conquer barriers together. Overall, this work could have an extensive impact on survivors’ health and quality of life, while reducing healthcare costs.

Dr Sabiston’s career has been progressing rapidly, and her potential has been recognized with several elite early career awards. Importantly, knowledge sharing activities are integrated into every facet of her work, bridging research and practical application. She often shares her work through outreach activities targeting students, teachers, healthcare providers and patients. Integrating physical activity into cancer care and survivorship could prolong life, enhance quality of life and encourage social connection, positioning Dr Sabiston’s work to have a far-reaching impact on cancer control. 

Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize

The Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize is given to a young investigator whose outstanding contributions to basic biomedical research have the potential to lead, or have already led to improved understanding of cancer treatments and/or cures. It honours Bernard and Francine Dorval, whose longstanding support of the Society has helped to raise more than two million dollars in support of Society-funded research, policy work and programs.

This award comes with a $20,000 contribution to the recipient’s research program.

Dr Uri Tabori, 2016 recipient

Dr Uri TaboriDr Uri Tabori is a talented clinician-scientist who has quickly emerged as a world leader in pediatric oncology research and practice. His work has advanced the scientific community’s understanding of childhood brain tumours, especially in the context of children with cancer predisposition syndromes.

Among Dr Tabori’s outstanding contributions is his demonstration of the role of maintaining the ends of chromosomes (telomeres) in the biology of childhood brain tumours. Dr Tabori has also helped explain the molecular basis of pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGGs), the most common brain tumours in children. He initiated a multidisciplinary Canadian low-grade glioma task force and maintains the largest database of clinical and pathological data on PLGG in the world. Another one of Dr Tabori’s large-scale initiatives was the establishment and leadership of an international consortium of researchers dedicated to studying biallelic mismatch repair deficiency (BMMRD) – a rare cancer predisposition syndrome – leading to a high-impact publication showing that brain cancers in children with BMMRD have more mutations than most cancer types. Overall, the foundational cancer research that Dr Tabori performs acts as a springboard to translate knowledge to clinical application.

Dr Tabori’s commitment to improving children’s health worldwide is evidenced by his outreach activities, including monthly telemedicine meetings with clinicians at children’s cancer centres in developing countries. Dr Tabori is a strong advocate for Canadian cancer research, generously volunteering his time and expertise to the Canadian Cancer Society and other funders as a grant reviewer and participant in fundraising activities. His outstanding potential has been recognized by prestigious early career awards, and his research is having a direct impact on cancer care.


Previous winners

Robert L. Noble previous winners:

Dr Rama Khokha, 2014 co-recipient
Dr James T. Rutka, 2014 co-recipient

Dr Shoukat Dedhar, 2013

Dr Michel Tremblay, 2012

Dr John Bell, 2011
Dr Mitsu Ikura, 2010
Dr Brian Wilson, 2009
Dr Mark Henkelman, 2008
Dr Richard Hill, 2007
Dr Carol Cass, 2006

Drs Susan Cole and Roger Deeley, 2005
Dr Robert Kerbel, 2004
Dr Connie Eaves, 2003

Dr Nahum Sonenberg, 2002

Dr Chris Bleackley, 2001

Dr John Dick, 2000

Dr Janet Rossant, 1999

Dr Frank L. Graham, 1998

Dr Alan Bernstein, 1997

Dr Tak W. Mak, 1996

Dr A.J. Pawson, 1995

Dr Victor Ling, 1994


O. Harold Warwick Prize previous winners:

Dr Laurence Klotz, 2014

Dr William Foulkes, 2013 co-recipient

Dr Christine Friedenreich, 2013 co-recipient

Dr Steven Narod, 2012
Dr Michael Pollak, 2012

Dr Ming-Sound Tsao, 2011
Prof Richard Gallagher, 2010
Dr Ronald Barr, 2009
Dr Harvey Max Chochinov, 2008
Dr Mark Greenberg, 2007
Dr Frances Shepherd, 2006

Dr Kathleen Pritchard, 2005
Dr Eduardo Franco, 2004
Dr Ian Tannock, 2003
Dr Elizabeth Eisenhauer, 2002
Dr Joseph Pater, 2001
Dr George Browman, 2000
Dr Mark Levine, 1999
Dr Brenda L. Gallie, 1998
Dr Norman Boyd, 1997
Dr Allan Best, 1996
Dr W.R. Bruce, 1995
Dr Richard Margolese, 1994
Dr Anthony Miller, 1993

William E. Rawls Prize previous winners:

Dr Michael Taylor, 2014
Dr David Hammond, 2013

Dr David Huntsman, 2012

Dr Nada Jabado, 2011
Dr Camilla Zimmermann, 2010
Dr Lillian Sung, 2009
Dr Geoffrey Liu, 2008
Dr Linda Carlson, 2007
Dr Wan Lam, 2006

Dr Linda Cook, 2004
Dr Daniel Dumont, 2003
Dr Charles Boone, 2002
Dr Martin Gleave, 2001
Dr Timothy Whelan, 2000
Dr Josef Penninger, 1999
Dr Jeffrey Wrana, 1998
Dr Michael D. Tyers, 1998
Dr Pamela Ohashi, 1998
Dr Jerry Pelletier, 1997
Dr Mitsuhiko Ikura, 1996
Dr Susan M. Rosenberg, 1995
Dr André Veillette, 1994
Dr Philippe Gros, 1993


Bernard and Francine Dorval previous winners:

Dr Russell Jones, 2014

Dr Andrew Weng, 2013

Dr Torsten Nielsen, 2012 co-recipient
Dr Aaron Schimmer, 2012 co-recipient

Dr Andrew Craig, 2011
Dr Daniel Durocher, 2010 co-recipient
Dr Michael Ohh, 2010 co-recipient
Dr Michael Taylor, 2009 

Nomination guidelines

Nomination guidelines for Canadian Cancer Society Awards for Excellence in Cancer Research are outlined through the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute.


For assistance, contact: research@cancer.ca