Government of Canada

Government of Canada

March 16, 2009 19:00 ET

NSERC Honours Leading Edge McGill University Researchers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 16, 2009) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of State (Science and Technology) Gary Goodyear, and Suzanne Fortier, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), today presented both Dr. Karim Nader and Dr. Andrew Hendy (McGill University researchers) with a prestigious NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship.

"I offer my most sincere congratulations to each of the researchers we are here to honour today," said Minister of State Goodyear. "Our government demonstrated our commitment to supporting research and development through Canada's Economic Action Plan. The $5.1 billion investment in science and technology initiatives will ensure that these individuals and the thousands of their associates working in labs, universities and research centres across Canada are encouraged to continue innovating for the benefit of all Canadians."

Dr. Nader's research group specializes in the esoteric area of memory and trauma. His research has focused on victims of violence, rape and abuse who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can force them to relive their ordeals over and over again, with debilitating consequences. Dr. Nader's experiments suggest that damaging memories can be stripped of their potency by a common blood pressure medication, propranolol.

"The goal isn't to completely erase the memory," says Dr. Nadar. "We just want to turn down the intensity of the emotional component of the memory so that it is not overwhelming and can then be treated with traditional forms of therapy."

Dr. Hendry is a world leader in documenting rapid, or contemporary, evolution. A leading investigator into the interface between ecological and evolutionary processes and their influence on biodiversity, he recently co-authored a much-cited study about a rarely seen pattern of "disruptive natural selection" leading to the creation of new species among the famous finches of the Galapagos Islands, originally studied by Darwin. Dr. Hendry's recognition as a Steacie Fellow seems singularly appropriate in 2009, the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. "It's been widely accepted that ecology matters to evolution," Dr. Hendry says. "So, for example, seed distribution or climate matters to bird evolution. But what hasn't been widely accepted is the reverse pathway-ecologists haven't often thought that short-term evolution mattered in studying contemporary ecology."

Now, as part of his Steacie research, Dr. Hendry will continue to tease out the real-time interplay between ecology and evolution.

"Today's award winners are great examples of what Canadian science has achieved and the promise of more world class discoveries in the future," Dr. Fortier said. "Canadians can be very proud of what our researchers are accomplishing."

The Steacie Fellowships enhance the career development of younger scientists who are earning international reputations for their research. Up to six Steacies are presented each year; each two-year fellowship is valued at up to $90,000 per year.

The NSERC Steacie Fellowships honour the memory of Dr. Edgar William Richard Steacie, an outstanding chemist and research leader who made major contributions to the development of science in Canada. Dr. Steacie believed that young researchers are a great national asset and should be given every opportunity to develop their own ideas. He played an instrumental role in setting the direction of the National Research Council starting in the 1950s.

NSERC is a federal agency whose vision is to help make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency supports some 26,500 university students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 11,800 university professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,400 Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of State
    (Science and Technology)
    Gary Toft
    Director of Communications
    Natasha Gauthier
    Senior Advisor, Media Relations