Gairdner Talks Begin

Well this week the University of Toronto hosts the 50th anniversary of the Gairdner Foundation.

If the Nobels are the Oscars of science, and the Lasker Awards the Golden Globes, this event is akin to the 50th anniversary of some big Hollywood studio. There are talks by many of today's hottest science rock stars and many smaller celebrations, which include lunches cocktail parties etc.

This morning we heard from Shinya Yamanaka, probably the hottest rock star scientist of our generation. If you've been asleep for the past few years, Yamanaka's lab discovered how to generate iPS cells from skin cells. This result launched a tsunami of research. And after listening to his talk and those of Gordon Keller and Andras Nagy, the revolution is well on its way. In fact we heard today that Kyoto University, where Yamanaka works will be launching a whole new institute for the study of iPS cell and iPS cell therapeutics in February.

For more on the impressive lineup of talks - see the Gairdner Foundation Schedule.


The afternoon session was entitled The Cell: An Endless Frontier Elizabeth Blackburn in her talk commented that she actually study the end of chromosomes. Bob Horvitz took that idea one step further and commented that he studied the end of cells. We got talking after the presentations and noticed that Vic Ambros talked about the end of mRNAs and Avarm Hersko talked about the end of proteins.

As all good biochemists would tell you, the end is just as important as the beginning.

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Very impressive list.

Yes it was. But I have to say that even with all the Nobel laureates, Shynia Yamanaka stole the show.