The Passing of a Great Canadian Researcher, Dr. Tony Pawson

Canada lost one of its inspirational and dedicated medical researchers Dr. Tony Pawson last week.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Dr Pawson.jpg

Dr. Pawson led a cell biology team at Mount Sinai Hospital's Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto. He studied something called signal transduction, which is in essence the way in which cells communicate and control their own and each other's behavior through chemical signals.

What made Dr. Pawson so important to Canada and to researchers and patients all around the world, is that his research changed the way the scientific community came to understand cellular biology and signal transduction.

What this has meant is that his discoveries have supported scientific knowledge and medical research in disease areas including cancer, diabetes, neurobiology and disorders of the immune system. His work has helped bring innovative medicines to patients here in Canada and around the world.

I was really hit by the profound nature of Dr. Pawson's impact on medicine and novel discovery. I thought that in order to get a sense of this impact and his community I would list some of the articles and testimonials that have surfaced over the past week.

Testimonies have been flowing since news broke of Dr. Pawson's passing including from the Federal Government:

"On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to extend condolences to Dr. Pawson's family. I salute him and his work, and, in his memory, I encourage Canadian researchers in their own endeavours." Hon. James Moore, Minister of Industry

From Mount Sinai Hospital:

"In honour of Dr. Pawson's passion for discovery and his revolutionary contributions to cancer research, the Dr. Tony Pawson Memorial Fund for the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute has been created. To make a contribution in honour of Dr. Pawson, please call 416-586-8203 or click here."

From colleagues and scientists:

"While scientists typically do not crave fame, if ever there was a rock star of science, his name would be Tony Pawson." Jim Woodgett, Pawson's successor as Director of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute

CIHR - Tribute to Dr. Anthony Pawson

Canadian Cancer Society - Remembering a cancer research pioneer

Media and blog coverage:

Tony Pawson, internationally acclaimed Canadian scientist, dies at 60. The Globe and Mail.

Nation Builder: Science - Anthony Pawson. Globe and Mail. (Piece of André Picard from January 2010)

Renowned Toronto genetic researcher Dr. Tony Pawson dies. Toronto Star.

A Fond Remembrance of Dr. Tony Pawson. By Dr. Michael Wosnick.

Finally, Paul Wells of Maclean's wrote a terrific piece on Dr. Pawson, his accomplishments and the state of science funding in Canada that I strongly recommend as a good read to learn more about his past and present.