McGill scholars win 3 of 5 top academic prizes


Killam Trusts honours work in health science, engineering, French literature

Professors at McGill University have won three of the five $100,000 Killam Prizes awarded annually in Canada to mark outstanding scholarship in the fields of health sciences, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities. The prizes are awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts on behalf of the Killam Trusts.

Drs. Philippe Gros, James McGill Professor in Biochemistry in the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Centre; Wagdi G. Habashi, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; and François Ricard, James McGill Chair in Quebec Literature and Modern Fiction in the Department of French Language and Literature; are being presented with the prizes at an awards ceremony being held at the University’s new Life Sciences Complex.

“We are immensely proud of these distinguished scholars, all of whom have received numerous honours throughout their remarkable careers,” said McGill University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum. “The University joins me in offering them our most sincere congratulations on this prestigious recognition of their accomplishments. They join a long list of Killam winners at McGill over the years and we are, of course, very pleased to see the University’s record of award-winning scholarship continuing. And we are also very grateful for the generous support the Killam Trusts provides to advance scholarship in Canada. Through both the Prizes and the Research Fellowships, the Killam program is of substantial benefit to our top professors and researchers.”

Dr. Gros, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, has done groundbreaking work in genetics, including leading a research team that identified the gene that causes spina bifida, the second-most common birth defect in humans. Dr. Gros was the first to isolate the “mdr” family of genes, which gives cancer cells resistance to many drugs. His research has also led to the identification of new genes that give rise to susceptibility to malaria.

Prof. Habashi, also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and an internationally recognized authority in Computational Fluid Dynamics, has developed efficient applied mathematical solutions to a wide range of complex aerospace problems for aircraft, rotorcraft and jet engines. His research has resulted in a code used worldwide throughout the aerospace industry in dealing with the potentially dangerous problem of in-flight icing.

Prof. Ricard’s numerous contributions to Quebec's literary history place him among the top historians of contemporary Canadian society. His biography on Canadian writer Gabrielle Roy won acclaim for its remarkable research, detail and significance to both Quebec and Canada's literary history. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he is a past winner of the Governor-General’s award.

The Killam Prizes were inaugurated in 1981 and financed through funds donated to the Canada Council by Mrs. Dorothy J. Killam in memory of her husband, Izaak Walton Killam. The Prizes were created to honour eminent Canadian scholars and scientists actively engaged in research, whether in industry, government agencies or universities. When the Canada Council was created in 1957, its mandate was to support both the arts and scholarly research; although this changed with the creation of separate research councils, the Canada Council retained responsibility for the Killam program. The Killam Fund at the Canada Council was valued at approximately $64.6 million as of March 31, 2008. The Killam Trusts, which fund scholarship and research at four Canadian universities, a research institute and the Canada Council, are valued at approximately $400 million.

On the Web: a webcast of today’s event will be posted on the McGill website,, later today.


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