Congratulations go out to Professor Michel Bouvier of the Universite de Montreal, who was one of the five Canadians – and the sole Montrealer – who won the prestigious Killam Prize. The $100,000 prize, which is awarded to each recipient, is presented by the Canada Council of the Arts to honour Canadian doctors and scholars who are currently at work on their respective cutting-edge innovations that are changing lives on a massive, global scale.
Professor Bouvier, who has been with the university for 32 years, was recognized in the Health Sciences category. For the past 15 years, he has been running a laboratory on behalf of the university’s Institute for Research Immunology and Cancer, it was his work in the fields of cell signalling and molecular pharmacology that earned him the prize.
“It’s almost like winning a personal Nobel Prize. It’s great that society recognizes the importance of research for the good of the people,” he said in a recent phone interview. And Professor Bouvier added that he wants to share the honour with the 100 student researchers who are working with him at the institute towards the goal of finding new and better medications and treatments for cancer patients, with very little of the devastating side effects that go with it. He also dedicated the award to Jacques de Champlain, his Ph. D mentor and a former Killam Prize recipient. “I was a student at his lab, and he was like a second father to me. The fact that I am following in his footsteps is very heartwarming,” said Professor Bouvier.
Professor Bouvier explained that his work on cell signalling and molecular pharmacology involves understanding the mechanisms that communicate to the cells and the proteins that signal the system to target which drugs are working to help kill cancer cells with less side effects that are usually associated with cancer treatments.
As well, he knows that owing to the fact that many people know someone who are either battling cancer or have passed away from it, that his work of digging through facts and data to find a better solution and create new therapies towards beating cancer must continue unabated.
“Cancer is not one disease, but a collection of diseases. Each one has their own different causes. And with targeted therapies, we can find the source that causes these different diseases,” said Professor Bouvier. “In the war on cancer, there are many little battles that we need to win, and we are fighting it battle by battle, but we are gaining ground on this enemy.”
“Will we win more battles over the next 10 years? Yes. Will we finally eradicate cancer over these same 10 years? I am not sure. But at least now, thanks to our research and tireless work, we are saving the lives of thousands and thousands of people.”
For more information on the Killam Prize, go to www.killamprogram.canadacouncil.ca.