The Gairdner Foundation announced that Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researcher Stephen Elledge is a recipient of a prestigious 2013 Canada Gairdner International Award in recognition of his contributions to medical science.
The awards, which are presented annually, recognize scientists responsible for some of the world’s most significant medical discoveries. Elledge, who became an HHMI investigator in 1993, was honored for elucidation of the DNA damage response as a signaling network that controls DNA repair and genomic stability. The Foundation noted that Elledge’s research is likely to have profound implications for cancer and other diseases. Elledge is on the faculty at Harvard Medical School.
Elledge's research has led to important discoveries about how cells detect and repair DNA damage, uncovering a whole signal transduction mechanism that alerts cells to chromosome defects. He identified the Chk2 enzyme, which activates the tumor-suppressor p53 to prevent cells with damaged DNA from dividing. When this enzyme is missing or defective, the "brakes" on cell division are released, increasing the risk of cancer. In other studies, he demonstrated that a protein known as ATM is a "trigger" for the protein BRCA1 to repair DNA damage. Mutations in ATM and BRCA1 together may account for nearly 10 percent of all breast cancers.
The Canada Gairdner Awards will be presented at a dinner in Toronto in October as part of the Gairdner National Program, a month-long lecture series given by Canada Gairdner Award winners at 21 universities from St John’s to Vancouver.
His bio is available on the HHMI web site.