Oxford Professors named winners of Canada Gairdner Awards 2010

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Two Oxford professors have received Canada Gairdner Awards in recognition of their achievements in the field of medical science.

The grants are among the most prestigious grants given for medical research. Since the awards were first presented in 1957, over a quarter of recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

Peter Ratcliffe, the Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine, was recognised for his work researching how cells in the body monitor their levels of oxygen. Oxygen deficiency is a critical feature of a wide range of illnesses including heart disease, cancer and anaemia.

The Gairdner Foundation also rewarded Nick White, who specialises in tropical medicine. Professor White’s work with the drug artemisinin has shown it to be the single most effective and fast acting treatment for malaria.

Artemisinin had been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than a millennium. It was rediscovered during the Vietnam War by scientists working at Ho Chi Minh’s behest.

The drug is now deployed widely in first-line treatments for malaria.

Professor White intends to donate a portion of his grant to Medical Action Myanmar. The Dutch charity is working to improve access to healthcare for some of Burma’s poorest people.

Each of the scientists will receive $100,000 in funding.

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