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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.



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