ARCHIVED - Recipient of Prestigious H.L. Holmes Award

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August 03, 2003— Ottawa, Ontario

Dr. Alison Allan, 2003/2004 recipient of the prestigious H.L. Holmes Award for Post-Doctoral Studies, will receive a total of $181,400 for breast cancer research.


The winning proposal

Dr. Alison Allan, 2003/2004 recipient of the prestigious H.L. Holmes Award for Post-Doctoral Studies. A recipient of many awards and scholarships, Dr. Allan holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Guelph, where she also completed her undergraduate studies in molecular biology and genetics. She has been published numerous times. Dr. Allan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Ann Chambers and Dr. Alan Tuck at the London Regional Cancer Centre (LRCC) in London, Ontario. Affiliated with the University of Western Ontario and London Health Sciences Centre, the LRCC is a world-class treatment and research facility serving the 1.2 million people of Southwestern Ontario.

"Dr. Alison Allan looks like a splendid winner of this award," said NRC president, Dr. Arthur Carty. "I am sure she will be a future star in her field and make a significant contribution to the development of therapeutic targets for cancer and the biological mechanisms of metastasis."

Dr. Allan will examine the functional role of the protein, Osteopontin (OPN), in breast cancer and metastasis - the spread of cancer cells from a primary site and the establishment of secondary tumors in distant locations. This work will contribute towards understanding the function and molecular mechanisms of action of OPN in breast cancer malignancy. These studies will complement ongoing clinical investigations at the LRCC that have identified OPN as an important prognostic indicator and potential therapeutic target in breast cancer patients. The research will contribute to Dr. Allan's long-term goals of integrating both experimental and clinical approaches to investigating molecular mechanisms of cancer development, particularly those that relate to identifying potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets.

The Award

"I am attempting to offer Canadians the best research training and experience in the world. If the candidate is able enough to get their PhD at an outstanding university such as Harvard or Princeton etc and would like to spend a post-doctoral year at Cambridge or MIT, such a candidate would appeal to me. Secondly, as I have indicated, I am interested in the candidate obtaining the best research training and experience possible."

Dr. R.H.L. Holmes
April 12, 1984

The H.L. Holmes Awards have been established by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in honour of the late Dr. R.H.L. Holmes, a chemist who spent most of his research career in Alberta. Bequeathed by the late Dr. Holmes, in recognition of NRC's commitment to promote research excellence, the Awards aim to enhance Canadian research through post-doctoral studies under outstanding research persons at world-renowned graduate schools or research institutes. Each award will cover a one or two-year period, depending on available funding and the research proposal, and can have a monetary value of up to $100,000 per year. Research must be undertaken in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics related to medical and biological processes.

The award is open to Canadian citizens who have graduated from a recognized Canadian university. The candidate must have demonstrated research ability and hold a doctoral degree, received within the five years immediately prior to the application date, from either a Canadian university or outstanding foreign university. Candidates are evaluated by the H.L. Holmes Award Selection Committee with respect to: the candidate's demonstrated research experience, the scientific merit of the proposed research, the assessments of the candidate by persons familiar with the candidate's work, and the acceptance and support of the host organization.

"The H.L. Holmes Awards benefit Canadian researchers and Canada," says NRC Vice-President Research Dr. Peter Hackett. "Talented individuals gain from the opportunity to work in excellent labs around the world, and we as a country benefit from the new skills and knowledge they bring back after their assignment is over."

Past Recipients

2009 — Dr. Bryan Davies, Recipient of Prestigious H.L. Holmes Award

2007 — Dr. Jennifer Estall, Recipient of Prestigious H.L. Holmes Award

2005 — Dr. Cowan, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto

Dr. Allan is the third recipient of a Holmes Award. Past winners are Dr. Suzanne Demczuk in 1997 and Dr. Carol Dallaire in 1994.

Dr. Suzanne Demczuk, a post-doctoral fellow at the Montreal Children's Hospital, was awarded $200,000 for a two-year research project concerning the origins of microdeletions in human chromosome 22. Symptoms associated with this disorder include a characteristic heart defect, low levels of blood calcium, frequent infections during childhood, cleft palate and other facial abnormalities. This research was conducted in the Endocrine Genetics Laboratory of the Montreal Children's Hospital under the direction of Dr. Constantin Polychronakos. Dr. Demczuk holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics, a Masters of Science degree in Cytogenetics, and a Bachelor of Science in Human Genetics, all from McGill University. Prior to her fellowship at the Montreal Children's Hospital, Dr. Demczuk conducted post-doctoral work at the Curie Institute in Paris.

The first Holmes Award recipient was Dr. Carol Dallaire, a synthetic and supramolecular chemistry post-doctoral fellow at the University of Texas, who was awarded $180,000 for two years to undertake two new projects at the NRC Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences (NRC-SIMS). Working closely with NRC-SIMS Drs. Burton, Arya, Surewicz and Ripmeester, the projects were performed within the context of the structures of the NRC-SIMS-led, interdisciplinary and inter-institute collaborative anti-cancer project (ß-carotene) and the NRC-SIMS supramolecular, biomimetic materials project. Dr. Dallaire obtained his Ph.D. in Organic and Organometallic Chemistry from McMaster University, a Masters of Science in Organic Chemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, both from Université de Sherbrooke. Before joining the University of Texas, Dr. Dallaire also conducted post-doctoral work under Nobel-prize winner Professor Jean-Marie Lehn at the Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg.

Find out more about the H.L. Holmes Awards for Post-Doctoral Studies.

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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