Dr.Michael Hayden, a geneticist who had worked on developing improved pain medication, has received the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, given for leadership in medical science.
Hayden, responsible for research in human genetics and molecular medicine at the University of British Columbia, and his colleagues identified genes for several rare disorders and more oft-occurring diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, as well as chronic pain. He had also worked on identifying the gene responsible for Huntington's disease. The three companies that he established develop tests and treatments based on these discoveries.
Hayden acknowledged, when he accepted the award that was worth $100,000 the contribution of the network of patients and researchers in Canada and across the world who had the imagination, creativity, curiosity and sense of irreverence against accepting the status quo needed for successful research.
He also recalled his early days in South Africa where he observed and was inspired by the appreciation that Huntington's disease sufferers showed for his pioneering predictive test; and where he built an appreciation for democracy and free speech that are an integral part of scientific creativity and collaboration that, in turn, is a part of Canada.