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CSWA Science In Society Awards
The Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers Science In Society awards annually to honour outstanding contributions to journalism and science communication in Canada
2014 CSWA Science Communication Award Winner
The Giant Walk Through the Brain,by Trevor Day, Jay Ingram and Christian Jacob.
In 1972, neuroscientist Joseph Bogen suggested building a giant 60-story high science museum of the human brain. This giant walkthrough brain would educate and engage students and the public by taking them on guided tours inside, making it possible to visualize anatomical relationships among structures surrounding them. Although this architectural project remains an intriguing idea, the cost makes it unlikely an actual walk through brain will ever be built. However, modern computer technology and advances in computational human anatomy models provide another avenue for exploring a three-dimensional virtual human brain. Our team has developed “The Giant Walk through the Brain”, an innovative, engaging, narrative-driven public science communication performance which takes a live audience on a larger-than-life virtual tour of the human brain. “The Giant Walk Through Brain” is a live theatrical performance, including engaging, story-driven narration, dramatic 3-D computer animations and original live music.
Dr. Trevor Dayis a neurobiologist and Associate Professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. He is music director and leader of the five-piece band “The Free Radicals”. They have written original music to accompany the narration and guided 3-D tour of the brain during the live performance.Dr. Christian Jacobis a Professor and director of the University of Calgary’s LINDSAY Virtual Human Project and the leader of the animation team. They have developed custom-made, scientifically accurate 3-D models and animations in the form of interactive fly-throughs to support the scientific and narrative content of the performance. Science broadcasterJay Ingramwrote the narration and acts as tour guide for The Giant Walk Through Brain performance. He is a member of the Order of Canada with 30 years of broadcasting experience with CBC Radio and Discovery Channel, author of 13 books and co-founder of Calgary’s Art, Science and Engineering festival Beakerhead.
2014 CSWA Science Journalism Award Winner
The Allergy Fix by Bruce Mohun and Helen Slinger, Dreamfilm Productions. The Allergy Fixaired CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things, 27 February 2014.
A documentary that explores the science behind the surge in childhood food allergies over the last twenty years. More than three times as many children have food allergies now than twenty years ago, and one out of every three children is now allergic to something, be it food, animals, or plants.
Director/writerBruce Mohunis a Vancouver-based science journalist and television director who has produced, directed, hosted and written hundreds of hours of TV for broadcasters including CBC, Discovery, and Knowledge. His past documentaries for CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things have won multiple awards including both the Gold and Silver World Medals at the New York Festivals. Bruce has been honoured with both the Science Council of British Columbia’s Eve Savory Award for Science Communication, and the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies’ J. Gordin Kaplan Award for Science Communication.
Helen Slingeris a master storyteller who began her career as a newspaper and then television reporter. After a lengthy left turn into news management, she left mainstream media to pursue her passion for documentary. Since then she has directed, written and produced many documentaries, including more than ten made in collaboration with Dreamfilm.”
Blinded By Scientific Gobbledygookseries, by Tom Spears, The Ottawa Citizen.
Undoing Forever, by Britt Wray, CBC Radio One IDEAS.
2014 Winner of the CSWA Herb Lampert Emerging Journalist Award
Floating Away: The Science of Sensory Deprivation Therapy, by Shelly Xuelai Fan , Discover Magazine, 4 April 2014.
Sensory deprivation was considered the ultimate psychological torture device. Now it is rapidly becoming North America’s new drug-of-choice. Across the continent “”float houses”” are increasing in popularity, offering eager psychonauts a chance to explore this unique state of mind. Those running the business are quick to list the health benefits of frequent “”floats””, which range from the believable – relaxation, heightened senses – to the seemingly nonsensical. Are these proclaimed benefits backed up by science or are they simply new-age hogwash?Floating Awaydelves into the science of sensory deprivation therapy by interviewing the field’s pioneering researcher at the University of British Columbia, and offers a critical look at the past and future of this fringe research area.
Shelly Xuelai Fanis a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, where she studies protein degradation in neurodegenerative diseases. She is a science writer with an insatiable obsession with the brain, and her work has appeared in Discover, Scientific American MIND, UBC Medical Journal and other publications.
Each year the Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers two book awards to honour outstanding contributions to science writing 1) intended for and available to children/middle grades ages 8-12 years, and 2) intended for and available to the general public for books that were published in Canada during the previous calendar year. This year the CSWA received a record number of entries in both categories. Entries were judged on the basis of initiative, originality, scientific accuracy, clarity of interpretation and value in promoting a better understanding of science by the public.
Short List for the 2014 Science in Society Children/ Middle Grades Book Award competition:
WINNER: The Fly by Elise Gravel, Penguin Random House.
Zoobots by Helaine Becker, Kids Can Press.
Starting from Scratch by Sarah Elton, Owl Kids Books.
It’s Catching by Jennifer Gardy, Owl Kids Books.
If by David J. Smith, Kids Can Press.
Short List for the 2014 Science in Society General Book Award competition:
WINNER: Bee Time by Mark L. Winston, Harvard University Press.
The End of Memory by Jay Ingram, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.
Canadian Spacewalkers: Hadfield, MacLean and Williams Remember the Ultimate High Adventure by Bob McDonald, Douglas & McIntyre.
Pain and Prejudice: What Science can Learn about Work from the People Who Do It by Karen Messing, Between the Lines (BTL).
Is that a Fact? by Dr Joe Schwarcz, ECW Press.
Sanofi Pasteur Medal for Excellence in Health Research Journalism 2014
Canadians for Health Research (CHR) and Sanofi Pasteur are pleased to announce that the registration for the 2014 competition is now open. The successful recipient will receive a medal and a $2,500 bursary. This awards will be presented at the CSWA annual conference awards dinner on June 7th in Toronto.
For further information please visit www.chrcrm.org.
PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS
The winners for outstanding books published in 2013 are:
Outstanding General Audience Book:
Ray Jayawardhana for Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
Honourable Mention to Carolyn Abraham for The Jugglers Children
Outstanding Youth Book:
Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone for Dirty Science: 25 Experiments with Soil
Neutrino Hunters is not what you expect from a science book on a topic that can hard for the general public to understand, “Neutrino Hunters was, quite frankly, a surprise to me. These expositions are typically dense and arcane, much like their subject matter, but this one was a lucid account of a complex and almost quixotic search. I went from “so what” to “cool” pretty quickly, without feeling that I was being talked down to.” Another judge said, “I think what most impressed me about it is that Ray Jayawardhana infused a human element into the book that made the book engaging. It also contained very easy to understand information about neutrinos and why they are relevant to the average person, or why it could be relevant in the future.”
Ray Jayawardhana is a professor and the Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. A graduate of Yale and Harvard, he has coauthored over 100 scientific papers. His discoveries have made headlines worldwide and have brought him numerous accolades such as the Steacie Prize, the McLean Award, the Rutherford Medal and the Radcliffe Fellowship. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Economist, Scientific American and more. The author of Strange New Worlds, he lives in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @DrRayJay and on the web at www.rayjay.net.
The Jugglers Children tackles profound questions around the genetics of identity, race and humanity and tells a big story about our small world, with vivid proof that genes bind us all to the branches of one family tree.
Carolyn Abraham is the author of Possessing Genius: The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein’s Brain, which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-fiction. She is a four-time winner of the Canadian Science Writer’s Association annual journalism award for her medical reporting and winner of two National Newspaper Awards. She lives with her family in Toronto. www.thejugglerschildren
Dirty Science: 25 Experiments with Soil is filled with fun, easy experiments and the lively illustrations that readers have come to expect from the team behind Scary Science: 25 Creepy Experiments and Snowy Science: 25 Cool Experiments. Budding scientists discover all the fun things you can do with dirt. There’s more to dirt than, well, dirt. In fact, don’t call it dirt to a scientist — it’s soil! Soil can tell you a lot about where you live and what’s going on behind, or beneath, the scenes.
Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone are international award-winning and best-selling authors of over 70 children’s science books and science toys and kits. Leslie Johnstone is also head of a high school science department. Shar Levine is the President of the Children’s Book Centre. Shar is also a frequent guest speaker and demonstrator in schools and at educational conferences. www.sciencelady.com
The winners will be presented with their awards during the CSWA’s annual conference in Toronto at the awards banquet on June 7th.
Science In Society Journalism Awards 2013
The Science in Society banquet to present the awards was held on Friday, June 7th, 2013 at the CSWA annual conference in Montreal, Quebec.
The winners of the CSWA Science in Society Journalism Awards were:
Herb Lampert Emerging Journalist Award:
“Des medicaments téléguidés”
Bouchra Ouatik, Quebec Science
The judges said that, “Ouatik’s submission reports on an interesting, novel approach of cancer therapy using MRI guided magnetic drug coated “marbles” to attack the target cancerous cells.”
Bouchra Ouatik is currently a radio and television reporter for Radio-Canada Manitoba, in Winnipeg. She was previously a freelancer for many media outlets in Quebec, including Québec Science, Protégez-Vous, Le Devoir, and CIBL 101,5 Montréal. She holds a journalism degree from Université de Montréal.
She describe her winning article, “Des médicaments téléguidés » was featured in Québec Science magazine, in the “10 discoveries of the year” edition. The article presents the work accomplished by a researcher in Montreal to create capsules which transport cancer drugs through a patient’s blood vessels. The capsule can be guided using a magnetic field. This innovation aims to help deliver cancer drug with minimal side effects.”
“A Shifting Scale”
Lesley Evans Ogden, Cosmos Magazine
Crossing the bridge from scientist to communicator following a PhD and postdoc in wildlife ecology, Lesley made the leap to full-time freelancing following online journalism courses with Mediabistro, the Banff Centre’s Science Communications program, and a year with the Science Media Centre of Canada. Now a Contributing Science Writer at Natural History magazine, she has written for New Scientist, Nature, CBC, Scientific American, YES Mag, Canadian Running, Cosmos, Bioscience, and Experimental. She received a CIHR journalism award in both 2011 and 2012, and was a recent participant in the 2013 Santa Fe Science Writer’s Workshop.
Lesley said, “I wrote this piece for my 2011 journalism award to investigate obesity from an evolutionary perspective. It was a hugely complex and difficult topic to explore, but also extremely interesting. I discovered that one of the main hypotheses to explain modern obesity, the so-called “thrifty gene hypothesis,” is actually rather tenuously supported by evidence, and that the so-called Paleo diet is based more on fiction than fact. In this piece I tried to bring a cross-species and anthropological look at our modern cultural shift towards obesity.”
Science In Society Journalism Awards
Print under 1,600 words:
“Less Buzz Than Before”
Margaret Munro, Post Media News
The judges recognized both the quality of Margaret’s writing and the importance of the story being told.
“It is clever, charming and nicely written.”
“The problem of the decline in the bumblebee population has been recognized by the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario, as well as the Government of Canada and in 2010, the rusty-patched bumble bee has been given the status of “Endangered” as of April 2010.”
Margaret says, “The bee story got its start when I spoke to Sheila Colla at York University last spring for a news story I was working on about pesticides and she mentioned in passing her quest for the rusty-patched bumblebee. My editor Tina Spencer at Postmedia was almost as intrigued as I was and we decided to include the endangered bee in our series last summer on Canada’s species at risk. Though a sad tale to tell Sheila and her colleagues at York were so animated about the bees and generous with their time that it was one of my most enjoyable assignments of the year.”
Margaret is a Senior Writer with Postmedia News, which reaches millions of Canadians through its chain of newspapers and websites including the Ottawa Citizen, National Post, Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun. She has been writing about science for 30 years starting at the Ottawa Citizen, where she covered the launch of the first space shuttles and the demise of Canada’s nuclear reactor program before moving to the Vancouver Sun. In 2003 she joined Canwest News (now Postmedia News) where her work has taken her from the Arctic to write about ancient permafrost melting into the sea to remote Canadian communities struggling with diabetes epidemics. Her stories exposing how the Canadian government has been muzzling and silencing its scientists has attracted national and international attention. Munro is the recipient of several writing awards from the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, the 2003 Michener Fellowship for Public Service Journalism, a 2009 media award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and was shortlisted for Canadian Association of Journalists awards in 2011 and 2012.
“The God Particle”
Dan Falk, The Walrus
Dan Falk is a freelance science writer and broadcaster based in Toronto. He has written about science for the Globe and Mail, The Walrus, New Scientist and many other publications, and has been a regular contributor to the CBC Radio program Ideas. He is the author of two popular science books, In Search of Time and Universe on a T-Shirt. Falk was a 2011-12 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT in Cambridge Massachusetts.
With Neil Turok’s recent book The Universe Within as a focal point, Falk examines the public’s enormous appetite for popular physics writing. Why are we so keen to read explanations for the cosmos, even when the mathematical details are beyond reach? Perhaps it’s because books of this sort – dating back to Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time – seem to be about more than just science. Religion and philosophy, even if not tackled head-on, seem to be lurking between the lines.
The judges did not give out awards in the radio or video categories this year.
The Science in Society Awards will be presented on Friday, June 7th, 2013 at the 42nd annual Canadian Science Writers Association conference in Montreal, Quebec.
CSWA Announces Outstanding Canadian Science Books Published in 2012
The Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers two $1000 annual book awards to honour outstanding contributions to science writing 1) intended for and available to children/middle grades ages 8-12 years, and 2) intended for and available to the general public for books that were published in Canada during the 2012 calendar year.
The general audience book winner is Fatal Flaws by Jay Ingram. The youth book winner is the Big Green Book about the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker. Entries were judged on the basis of initiative, originality, scientific accuracy, clarity of interpretation and value in promoting a better understanding of science by the public.
“The structure drove me forward as a reader. Good use of verbal imagery.”
Another judge said, “This book is well written and does not require a scientific background. The flow is good. The book provides a great overview of the status of prion diseases and does not fall into sensationalism.”
Clarity and the ability to engage the audience with a complex topic were also important factors when the judges considered The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker.
One judge commented that it is, “Clearly written with lots of information and discuses topics about the ocean and what happens in oceans. Well thought out, activities are good and relate well to the content being presented.
The younger judges from grades 4 and 6 agreed, “I liked this book because it had many interesting experiments. I even did one myself.” “I really liked the experiments and it was very
The judges recommended an honourable mention go to Bébés Illimités by Dominique Forget in the general audience category. They said it was, “Well written. Well researched. Thoughtful: asks questions about the ethical and practical implications of the practices described.”
The winners will be presented with their awards during the CSWA annual conference in Montreal at the gala and awards banquet on June 7.
Herb Lampert Emerging Journalist Award
The Herb Lampert Emerging Journalist Award
is open to any student or newly practicing
journalist who has a science article published
in print, broadcast or online during 2011.
Competitors must be Canadian citizens or residents
of Canada. The award is presented for original
material disseminated – in French or English –
during the 2012 calendar year.
The award will be presented during the CSWA
Science In Society Awards
Science in Society Awards for original material disseminated – in French or English print or broadcast – during the 2012 calendar year.
The Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers awards annually to honour outstanding contributions to journalism in Canadian print and broadcast media. Competitors must be Canadian citizens or residents of Canada.
Print entries must have appeared in a Canadian publication aimed at the general public. Electronic entries must have been aired on a cable or broadcast system licensed in Canada.
These awards are presented for original material disseminated – in French or English print or broadcast – during the 2012 calendar year. The awards will be presented at the upcoming CSWA annual conference.
Sanofi Pasteur Medal For Excellence In Health Research Journalism
“Most people, most of the time, learn most of what they know outside the classroom.” – George Tressel (1990)
Presented By Canadians For Health Research
Canadians for Health Research (CHR) and Sanofi Pasteur are pleased to announce the Sanofi Pasteur Medal for Excellence in Health Research Journalism. The creation of this national award is intended to highlight the pivotal role that journalists play in raising public awareness of the importance of health research in Canada. The award consists of a medal plus a $2,500 bursary.
PAST SCIENCE IN SOCIETY AWARDS:
The Canadian Science Writers’ Association has announced the winners of the national Science in Society Journalism Awards competition to honour outstanding contributions to journalism in the Canadian media during the 2011 calendar year. Each award carries a $1,000 prize value.
The Science in Society Journalism Awards banquet to honour the winners wAS held Saturday, June 2, 2012 at the CSWA annual conference in Windsor, Ontario.
PRINT Less than 1,600 Words: Winner: “Salvation or Slippery Slope” by Sharon Kirkey, Post Media News
“Kirkey offers readers a clear, polished and compelling explanation of a controversial and nuanced subject. It is a near-effortless read – almost like eating chocolate. Can we have more?”
“Both the key themes are of universal interest: pain and aging are of concern to every reader, and so is the formulation of public policy. The link between the two, and their relevance to readership, is maintained and reinforced throughout, and emphasized again in the closing paragraphs. The author does an exemplary job of setting out the impact of science and policy on the lives of sufferers.”
RADIO Items Under 30 Minutes: Winner: “Exercise & The Aging Brain” Jim Lebans, Bob McDonald, Mark Crawley, Quirks and Quarks
“My comment is in the form of a personal classified ad to continue with the humourous take adopted in the program: “Bicycling baby boomer exercising to keep his body in good shape and to reduce some cardio problems is looking for a toned-up brain for better blood flow and more plasticity. If interested, listen to “Exercise & the Aging Brain” on CBC Radio one.”
TELEVISION Items Less than 30 Minutes: Winner: “La Sclerose en Plaques”France Desourdy and Claude D’Astous, Decouverte
“People, scientists and patients alike can relate to this information. It is presented succinctly and provides the facts without giving false hope.”
THE HERB LAMPERT EMERGING JOURNALIST AWARD Winner: “Final Verdict” by Tyler Irving, Canadian Chemical News
“It was informative and interesting, as well as being a good read.”
“It really engages everyone, including non-scientific types, to pay close attention to the subject matter.”
CSWA Announces Best Canadian Science Books Published in 2011
The youth book winner is 50 Poisonous Questions by Tanya Lloyd Kyi.
Entries were judged on the basis of initiative, originality, scientific accuracy, clarity of interpretation and value in promoting a better understanding of science by the public.
Both of this year’s books appealed to the judges because they created a sense of mystery and discovery. Commenting on Cascadia’s Fault one judge said, “The writing was masterful and it read almost like a novel. I never felt bogged down in details, and yet the science about earthquakes was all there along with the controversies, descriptions of the sources, and stories about the people.”
The youth judges were equally enthusiastic about 50 Poisonous Questions, “There were very interesting facts that I didn’t know about and the explanations were easy to understand.” “It was a book I didn’t want to put down until I finished the whole book.” “It was a really fun book.”
38th Annual Science in Society Journalism Award winners
Toronto, Ontario, 2010 – The Canadian Science Writers’ Association has announced the winners of the national Science in Society Journalism Awards competition to honour outstanding contributions to journalism in the Canadian media during the 2009 calendar year. Each award carries a $1,000 prize value.
The 38th annual Science in Society Journalism Awards banquet to honour the winners will be held Saturday, June 5, 2010 at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa ON.
PRINT Less than 1,600 Words: Winner: Megan Ogilvie, “The Price of Eggs,” The Toronto Star, November 21, 2009.
RADIO Items Under 30 Minutes: Winner: Pauline Dakin, “The Forgotten Cancer,” CBC National News, The World Report and The World at Six, aired July 6,7, and 8, 2009.
TELEVISION Items Less than 30 Minutes: Winner: Hélène Naud and Louise Beaudoin, “La Hanche Bionique,” Découverte, October 25, 2009.
THE HERB LAMPERT EMERGING JOURNALIST AWARD Winner: Megan Haynes, “Space Junk Threatens Canadian Satellites,” Capital News Online, March 20, 2009.
2009 Science in Society Book Awards
The Canadian Science Writers’ Association offers two $1,000 annual book awards to honour outstanding contributions to science writing 1) intended for and available to children and youth under 16 and 2) intended for and available to the general public
Toronto, April 21, 2010 — The Canadian Science Writers’ Association has announced its winners for books published in Canada in 2009 and entered in the national Science in Society Book Awards competition in two categories: 1) Youth under 16 years and 2) General Audience Books.
Winner, Youth Book under 16 Years: Carol McDougall, A Salmon’s Sky View, First Choice Books. (Honorable Mention: Cora Lee, The Great Motion Mission: A Surprising Story of Physics in Everyday Life, Annick Press.)
Winner, General Audience: Ed Struzik, The Big Thaw: Travels In the Melting North, John Wiley & Sons Canada.
The banquet to honor the 2009 winners will be held Saturday evening, June 5, 2010, in the Locomotive Room of the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa ON in conjunction with the CSWA’s 39th annual conference, At a Crossroads: Science Communication in the Digital Age.
2009 Sanofi Pasteur Medal
Heartfelt Account Wins Journalism Award. Envisioning better strategies for dealing with cardiac disease
Montreal May 26, 2010 – Our ability to mend damaged and diseased hearts came a long way in the 20th century, as procedures such as coronary bypass procedures became common, life-saving operations. If the work being conducted at Toronto’s McEwan Centre for Regenerative Medicine is any indication, we can expect even more dramatic progress to dominate the 21st century.
Macleans magazine writer Kate Lunau has foreshadowed that progress in an article that has earned her this year’s sanofi pasteur Medal For Excellence In Health Research Journalism. “Growing a new heart,” which appeared in the publication’s 25 February 2009 issue, provides an introduction to promising techniques for regenerating and replacing heart cells as a way of treating ailments in this organ. The field represents a complex branch of biotechnology that readers might otherwise find daunting, but Ms. Lunau’s treatment of the subject makes for compelling reading.
“She has made a challenging piece of medical research entirely accessible,” says CHR president, Patricia Guyda. “This work is an example of how good writing and good reporting can take an audience to places they might never venture. And in this case, we all want to venture there, because this news about the future of treating heart disease is inspirational.”
That perspective was shared by the panel of scientists and writers who judged the winning entry. They praised the way Ms. Lunau was able to encourage an understanding of basic biology in order to foster an appreciation of the significant challenges that are now being overcome by cardiac researchers.
CHR launched the sanofi pasteur Medal in 1995, and administers the selection process. Sponsored by sanofi pasteur, Canada’s premier vaccine company, the inaugural medal recipient was Globe and Mail science reporter Stephen Strauss for his longstanding contribution to promoting public awareness of science. Other recent awardees include Mark Witten from Canadian Living, and Marcia Kaye from More magazine.
“As a company that is built on nearly a century of science, sanofi pasteur is pleased to be associated with this prestigious award that recognizes excellence in science journalism,” says Nancy Simpson, Director, Communications at sanofi pasteur Canada. Dr. Eileen Macallum, Associate Vice President Quality Operations, Sanofi Pasteur Limited, will present the award to Ms. Lunau on June 5 during the Canadian Science Writers’ Association annual general meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. Ms. Lunau will receive a commemorative medal and a $2,500 bursary.
Canadians for Health Research (CHR) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting the stability and quality of Canadian health research. It fosters communication between health researchers, the government and the Canadian public, and publishes a quarterly magazine entitled Future Health. For more information, or to become a member, please visit the CHR website at http://www.chrcrm.org
Sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of sanofi-aventis Group, provided more than a 1.6 billion doses of vaccine in 2008, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, sanofi pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company’s heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com.
2010 Yves Fortier Award
Entries for the Yves Fortier Award may deal with a broad spectrum of earth science topics, ranging from earth to ocean and atmosphere. They are judged generally on the basis of originality , clarity of interpretation, scientific accuracy and value in promoting a broader understanding of earth sciences by the public.
Winner: Randy Boswell of CanWest News Service, for his article “Lost World” (GAC Press release)
For more information, please visit the Geological Association of Canada
Sanofi Pasteur Medal For Excellence In Health Research Journalism: When remedies go wrong
Researchers come to grips with how helpful drugs can harm
Montreal May 26, 2011 — A mother taking well known pain relievers ends up giving her infant a fatal morphine overdose through her breast milk. A toddler taking cough syrup after getting his tonsils out develops a fever and stops breathing. Drugs intended to comfort children or even save their lives can sometimes kill them instead, leaving parents as well as prescribing physicians frustrated and puzzled. Researchers are now unraveling the subtle genetic roots of these tragedies, with the hope of identifying those patients who are most at risk before they receive any medication.
Writing in Today’s Parent magazine, Mark Witten outlines the challenge of trying to understand what happens in the body when a particular gene processes safe and approved medicines in unexpected ways. His work is being honoured with this year’s Sanofi Pasteur Medal For Excellence In Health Research Journalism. “Heal or Harm? The Truth About Prescription Drugs,” which appeared in the publication’s October 2010 issue, explains how modest levels of codeine in some products can be quickly metabolized as morphine in some individuals.
“The author captured our attention with a seemingly isolated story and quickly brought out statistics of the widespread nature of the issue,” stated one of the judges for the medal competition. “This showed the clear impact of biomedical research — identifying a problem, developing a research program and ultimately simple tests.”
Another judge put the point even more bluntly: “Readers of this story were also given valuable health research and consumer information — and questions they should be asking physicians and nurses before giving their children medications.”
Nor is codeine the only medication they should ask about. According to Witten’s account, each year more than 2,500 Canadian children die — and many others are left hurt or disabled — after reacting to ibuprofen, antibiotics, corticosteroids, and even chemo-therapeutic drugs intended to keep cancer at bay.
“This is a narrative that reveals what we now know to be entirely preventable tragedies,” says CHR president, Patricia Guyda. “So often we read about genetic investigations of one sort or another, and we rightly wonder what will come of them. Witten’s reporting tells us just that, making an invaluable contribution to our appreciation of how research benefits Canadians.”
CHR launched the Sanofi Pasteur Medal in 1995, and administers the selection process. Sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur Ltd., Canada’s premier vaccine company, the inaugural medal recipient was Globe and Mail science reporter Stephen Strauss for his longstanding contribution to promoting public awareness of science. Other recent awardees include Michael Smith from University Affairs and Peggy Curran from the Montreal Gazette.
“As a company that is built on nearly a century of science, Sanofi Pasteur is pleased to be associated with this prestigious award that recognizes excellence in science journalism,” says Nancy Simpson, Director, Communications at Sanofi Pasteur Canada.
She will present the award to Mr. Witten on June 11 during the Canadian Science Writers’ Association annual conference in Calgary, ALberta, where Mr. Witten will receive a commemorative medal and $2,500 bursary.