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Dr James T. Rutka
Robert L. Noble Prize co-recipient in 2014
Dr Rutka is considered one of the leading research neurosurgeons in pediatric brain cancer worldwide and has helped position Canada at the forefront of brain cancer research. He is recognized by his peers as embodying the model of a clinician-scientist, with numerous accolades for his contributions to translational cancer research and humanitarian efforts.
His career is marked by a dedication to understanding the most devastating pediatric brain cancers: astrocytomas and medulloblastomas. His research has changed scientific understanding of how these cancers evolve. For example, he discovered that a gene involved in the onset of medulloblastomas could be a drug target. This discovery garnered him international praise and led to his involvement in the creation of a 4-tiered tumour classification system for tumours, which was applied to 1,000 medulloblastoma genomes (published in Nature in 2012). This system has changed the way clinicians decide on treatments for children with these cancers.
Dr Rutka is recognized as a true ambassador for cancer education and awareness. He established b.r.a.i.n.child as a support network for families, now a philanthropic organization, and attends their every event. In 2014, he delivered a TEDx talk on the molecular biology of brain cancer. He has volunteered his time to the Canadian Cancer Society as a board member and on grant review panels. His reputation as a genuine humanitarian is borne out by his recognition, through several patient-selected awards, for his respectful, gentle treatment of the children and families in his care.