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Dr Michael Taylor
William E. Rawls Prize recipient in 2014
Dr Taylor is a pediatric neurosurgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children. He is interested in the molecular genetics and epigenetics of medulloblastoma and ependymoma, the most common malignant childhood brain tumours.
One of his most significant contributions is the determination that medulloblastoma, which often has a poor prognosis, is actually a disease comprised of 4 different subgroups – a discovery that has important implications for treatment stratification. As treatment for this disease can have devastating consequences for a child’s brain development, the potential to offer gentler treatment regimens to a subgroup with less aggressive cancers offers great hope for overall health and recovery. For another childhood cancer, ependymoma, Dr Taylor identified 2 subtypes and discovered that ependymoma is epigenomic – suggesting routes for novel therapy development. His contributions are often cited as prime examples of how molecular oncology can impact patient care. Dr Taylor is an international leader in his field, having initiated the MAGIC consortium, which has amassed a collection of more than 1,800 medulloblastoma tumours for study – a remarkable achievement for such a rare cancer – leading to the discovery of new therapeutic options that are already being tested in clinical trials. His CV is characterized by novel insights and a steadfast focus on improving outcomes for children. His research has been published in the highest impact journals, including Journal of Clinical Oncology, Nature and Lancet Oncology – unparalleled productivity for an early career clinician-scientist.
Dr Taylor has been recognized with several prestigious honours, including a “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40” award in 2008 and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Gold Medal Award in 2010. He has generously dedicated his time as a peer reviewer for several years on Canadian Cancer Society granting panels. He is known to be an inspirational leader with the ability to galvanize his team to their common purpose and an outstanding researcher with international impact.