McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Mac scientist takes Killam Research Fellowship

Published: February 25, 2011
Gerry Wright
Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

McMaster researcher Gerry Wright will dedicate the next two years to an ambitious project in antibiotic resistance after being awarded a prestigious Killam Research Fellowship.

Recognized as one of the top scientists in his field, Wright is one of eight Canadian researchers to win the 2011 award. The fellowships honour established scholars of exceptional ability who are engaged in research projects of broad significance and widespread interest.

"Antibiotic resistance is an incredibly timely issue right now and a very significant medical problem that is only growing in importance," Wright said. "There are a number of issues that need to get resolved. I am delighted the Killam Selection Committee looked favourably on my application and agree that we need to be doing Canadian research in a field that is having a profound impact on the health of the population."

Wright is the scientific director of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research. He is also a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences. He has published on the topic of antibiotic resistance in many prestigious publications, including the field’s top journal, Nature Chemical Biology.

His Killam research project will focus on understanding antibiotic resistance and developing strategies to identify leads for novel antibiotics from natural sources. He will lead a research team to identify new resistance genes in environmental bacteria and pathogens and study the molecular underpinnings of these genes in order to develop new drugs and diagnostic tools.

Wright will also work to establish CARD: a complete antibiotic resistance database for use by researchers, scientists and clinicians to track resistance elements and link this data with clinical outbreaks and medical literature.

"I’m working with an amazing group of bioinformatics researchers and what we want to do is build a resource that can be used by anyone in the world who is interested in the field of antibiotic resistance," Wright said. "The goal is to compile data in journals and link basic research with population health data to create a unique web-based resource."

The Killam Fellowships, among Canada’s most distinguished research awards, provide $70,000 a year for two years to each recipient. They enable researchers to be released from teaching and administrative duties so that they can pursue independent research.

"The Killam Fellowships are among the most desirable research awards in Canada. They enable scientists to dedicate their time to creating new knowledge and, in the case of Dr. Wright, advancing the field of antibiotic resistance and antibiotic drug discovery," said John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

"In the best McMaster tradition, Gerry Wright takes a multidisciplinary approach to the complex problem of antibiotic resistance. By bridging disciplines and collaborating with other scientists and clinicians, he is working towards understanding and developing long-term solutions to this problem."

The Killam Fellowships, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts,  support scholars engaged in research projects of outstanding merit in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, engineering and interdisciplinary studies within these fields.

The awards were created by a bequest from Dorothy J. Killam in memory of her husband, Izaak Walton Killam. Recipients are chosen by the Killam Selection Committee, which includes 14 eminent scientists and scholars representing a broad range of disciplines. This year, the winners were selected from 74 applications.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Level Double-A conformance, W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0