Established in the year 1957, the Gairdner Foundation sought to reward excellence in fundamental medical research that affects human health internationally. Over the years, the foundation has given out 373 awards to scientists around the world. Twenty-three percent of these winners have later on proceeded to receive the much-coveted Nobel Prize in Medicine.
The Gairdner Foundation has three types of awards. Every year, they are awarded to seven deserving awardees. Five awardees receive The Canada Gairdner International Awards while two others receive either The John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award or The Canada Gairdner Wightman Award.
Each of the Gairdner laureates receives a CAD $100,000 prize, which they can use as they please. The foundation also seeks to promote diversity and gender equity. Below are the three awards offered by the Gairdner Foundation.
1. The Canada Gairdner International Award
This award is given to five biomedical scientists every year who have made original contributions to medicine through research that leads to a better understanding of human biology and diseases. The nominees who qualify for this award are those who have made major scientific contributions and seminal discoveries that are interpreted as significant and original biomedical science achievements.
The five recipients of this award are scientists who have made outstanding discoveries and significant contributions to medical science. It is important to note that a lifetime body of work is not necessarily considered as a nomination criterion for this award. The nominees are then evaluated based on the quality of their research as submitted to the foundation.
2. The John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award
This prestigious award is given to the world’s best scientists for their outstanding achievements and contributions in Global Health Research. It was awarded for the first time eight years ago and has since grown to play a key role in highlighting various scientists who have made remarkable strides in global health research.
The award is, however, not awarded to those with administrative or leadership achievements since it is science-based. Among qualifications for nomination to these awards include significant scientific advancements with a special impact in the developing nations.
3. The Canada Gairdner Wightman Award
The Canada Gairdner Wightman Award is an award given to persons who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in medical science in Canada. All the nominees for this award must be Canadian and should have a very high level of research in any biomedical discipline.
The Canada Gairdner Wightman Award is awarded for two main reasons. The first reason is to reward personal or individual accomplishments in a specific field in the biomedical sciences (population health, basic, and clinical) in Canada or original and exemplary contributions to that specific field of biomedical science at an international level. The second reason is to reward and recognize institutional academic and scientific leadership that has led to the development of biomedical sciences research in Canada.
The Gairdner Foundation aims at encouraging advances in biomedical sciences research in Canada and in the world by recognizing and rewarding scientists making discoveries and significant contributions to the development of biomedical sciences. These awards are important because we are always in need of more breakthroughs in the medical field that will lead to the discovery of treatments for currently incurable diseases and medical conditions.
The Gairdner Foundation awards are viewed as a precursor to winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine, which recognizes the significance of the work being done by various scientists. It is hoped that as more scientists qualify for the awards, new frontiers of medical breakthroughs will herald a new era of managing medical conditions that have plagued humanity for years.