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Tony Pawson Dies

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Tony Pawson Dies

Tony Pawson, not a name that would be known across households around the world, but definitely someone to be recognized. A world-renowned Canadian researcher, whose discovery about how cells talk to each other transformed scientists’ fundamental understanding of cancer and many other diseases, has died at the age of 60.

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Chair of molecular oncology at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, he died late Wednesday August 7th of an undisclosed cause.

His death has stunned and saddened the scientific community in Canada and abroad. This really is a profound loss for Canada’s scientific community and will be felt by the international medical research world according to Dr. Jim Woodgett, director of the institute.

In 1990, Pawson’s team first reported on key protein interactions involved in signal transduction, or how cells communicate and control each other’s behaviour through chemical signals. Miscommunication among cells can give rise to such diseases as cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Pawson’s insight paved the ay for the development of designer medications such as Gleevec, a drug that locks out an abnormal cell signal that causes chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Other drugs based on the same principle are also in the works.

Pawson was the recipient of numerous awards including the Kyoto Prize in 2008. He was also honoured with the Wolf Prize in Medicine and the Gairdner Foundation International Award, as well as being named by the Queen in 2007 to the Order of the Companions of Honor.

The most important thing that Pawson did for Canada was actually stayed in Canada. He truly was a great Canadian mind.

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