McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Nathan Magarvey receives McMaster’s Innovator of the Year Award

By Chantall Van Raay
Published: May 15, 2013
Nathan Magarvey
Nathan Magarvey, member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) and assistant professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry & Chemical Biology

By integrating tools and technologies — from genomics to small molecules — to target drugs from nature, investigator Nathan Magarvey is helping build a culture of innovation at McMaster University.

As a result, Magarvey, a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) and an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, has been named McMaster’s Innovator of the Year.

His award was announced last week at the sixth annual McMaster Innovation Showcase that featured the presentation of 13 awards.

"We have so many stellar researchers who think beyond their office walls and laboratory space," said Mo Elbestawi, Vice-President, Research and International Affairs, "who reach out beyond their own discipline and field of expertise to collaborate with colleagues here at Mac, across Canada and indeed, across the globe."

Magarvey published two high impact publications in significant journals in the last year including a paper in Nature Chemical Biology and another in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

His research discovered that gold resistant bacterium Delftia acidovorans can turn toxic water-soluble gold into a solid gold form, the first demonstration that gold-resistant microbe secretes a metabolite that can protect against toxic gold. His projects have led to technologies and patent applications and connections with industry, including mining companies who are further validating the use of his discovery on the level of gold in soil samples.

Magarvey received his PhD in 2005 at the University of Minnesota focused on natural product drug discovery following a position at Wyeth-Ayerst (now Pfizer) in Infectious Diseases in Pearl River, NY. Following this, he took a postdoctoral position at Harvard Medical School. Magarvey joined McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research in 2008 and has since received a CIHR New Investigator Award and Canada Research Chair in Natural Product Drug Discovery.  

"This award is a nice appreciation of the excellent innovative works and hard efforts of my team," Magarvey said. "It is a great feeling to be a current force of the innovative spirit that has long been a cornerstone of McMaster's research excellence."

Meanwhile, David Earn, an IIDR member and a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, received a Synergy Award, highlighting research achievement and interdisciplinary research excellence. He was one of three recipients of the award.

Earn develops and analyzes mathematical models of biological systems, primarily for applications in epidemiology, ecology and animal behaviour. In 2012, he published a study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine with collaborators from across campus that investigated whether closing elementary and secondary schools can help slow the spread of infectious disease and should be considered as a control measure during pandemic outbreaks. Using high-quality data about the incidence of influenza infections in Alberta during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, he demonstrated that when schools closed for the summer, the transmission of infection from person to person was sharply reduced.

For more information and to view all award recipients, visit 2013 Innovation Showcase Award winners page.

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