McMaster University

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Health Sciences

Farncombe director receives Premier’s Summit Award

By Susan Emigh
Published: May 13, 2009
John Wallace
John Wallace, director of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute

John Wallace, director of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute, has won the prestigious Premier’s Summit Award in Medical Research.

The McMaster University medical professor was one of two Premier’s Summit Award winners at a gala event last night in Toronto, marking the first time a scientist from outside of Toronto has received the important prize.

The Premier’s Summit Award is designed to build Ontario’s research prowess by recognizing exceptional medical researchers and helping them expand their programs. The winners are internationally recognized leaders whose work is transformative in their fields.

The award is worth $5 million, with $2.5 million from the Government of Ontario and $2.5 million from the sponsoring institution. The McMaster funds are a donation of the Farncombe family which has supported the growth of McMaster’s renowned digestive health research program.

Wallace, a pharmacologist who has been called an international superstar in the field of gastrointestinal research, was recruited to McMaster from the University of Calgary in January this year.

His focus is on gaining a better understanding of the causes of some of the most common digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and colon cancer, as well as the ulcers that can arise from using painkillers and arthritis medication.

Video Video

Audio Audio

  • Dr. Wallace's acceptance speech at the Premier's Summit Awards
  • An interview with Dr. Wallace edited from Ideas: Science at the Summit
    courtesy of CBC Radio

In particular, Wallace is interested in learning what role the bacteria that live inside the human digestive system play in the development of these diseases. His ultimate aim is to design and produce better therapies for these conditions, which affect millions of Canadians each year.

An MBA graduate, he is co-founder of two pharmaceutical companies NicOx and Antibe Therapeutics, demonstrating his ability to move scientific discoveries from the lab to the marketplace.

"These award winners are turning great ideas into products and services for global markets. Their work will help keep Ontario competitive and create jobs," said Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Dr. Benjamin Neel of the Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto also received a Summit Award.

In addition to the two Summit awards, several other research awards were also given out at the gala, including prizes for the best young innovator, the innovator of the year and the start-up company with the best innovation.

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