2024 Award winners

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CSMB New Investigator award

The CSMB New Investigator Award recognizes meritorious research in one or more of the fields of biochemistry, molecular or cellular biology in Canada. Recipients have ten years or less of independent research experience, and demonstrate outstanding research accomplishments.

Winner: Maja Tarailo-Graovac, PhD

Maja Tarailo-GraovacAssociate Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Medical Genetics, Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary


Dr. Maja Tarailo-Graovac trained in biochemistry and genetics at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, BC, Canada. She then joined Dr. Ann M. Rose and her team at UBC for a PhD in Medical Genetics. Her doctoral work focused on Caenorhabditis elegans model system and deciphering genetic modifiers of spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). With her keen interest in genomics and bioinformatics, she then decided to undertake post-doctoral training at the Simon Fraser University in Dr. Nasheng Chen’s genomics lab. There, supported by the CIHR and Fanconi anemia fellowships, she applied genome sequencing approaches, such as 454 and Illumina, to better understand mutation spectra, using C. elegans, when crucial genome guardians are not functioning properly over many generations. Equipped with the new knowledge in genomics, she then joined the team of Dr. Wyeth Wasserman at the BC Children’s Hospital to help lead clinical applied genome analysis efforts. Her work was crucial in developing advanced boinformatics approaches and discovering many novel gene-disease associations. 

In 2017, Dr. Maja Tarailo-Graovac joined the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Medical Genetics at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, first as an Assistant Professor, now as an Associate Professor, where she established her multidisciplinary research program focused on genomics of rare diseases. Her research program interconnects high throughput sequencing, human and model organism genetics/genomics to better detect pathogenic variants and understand effects of different genetic backgrounds (i.e. genetic modifiers) on variable phenotypic outcomes in rare genetic disease.

Beyond her research accomplishments, research output and funding, her accomplishments are evident in mentoring and teaching. She has made a substantial contribution to mentoring next generation of scientists in diverse training programs: computational, clinical, and fundamental research. Her trainees are very successful at completing training programs, publishing manuscripts, attracting major awards, and continuing to successful careers. Furthermore, since joining the University of Calgary, she has recognized the need for establishing new classes focused on Applied Genomics, Genomics in Precision Medicine, and more recently need for innovative undergraduate learning by integrating classroom and research experience. She has successfully developed or co-developed three courses focused on bridging those gaps and meeting the growing teaching needs. 

Canadian Science Publishing Senior Investigator award

This award recognizes a record of outstanding achievement in research in one or more of the fields of biochemistry, molecular or cellular biology, undertaken in Canada by a Canadian scientist.

Winner: John M. Archibald, PhD, FRSC

John Archibald

Professor and Arthur B. McDonald Chair of Research Excellence
Director, Institute for Comparative Genomics (icg.dal.ca)
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology,
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Dalhousie University

John Archibald is Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, cross-appointed Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, and Arthur B. McDonald Chair of Research Excellence at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. He is also the Director of Dalhousie’s Institute for Comparative Genomics. Dr. Archibald is an Associate Editor for Genome Biology & Evolution and an Editorial Board member of several journals including Current Biology and BMC Biology. He is the author of ~180 research articles and two books: One Plus One Equals One: Symbiosis and the Evolution of Complex Life (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Genomics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2018). He was also Editor-in-Chief of the Handbook of the Protists (Springer, 2017), a 44-chapter, 2-volume set used the world over by teachers and researchers of eukaryotic microbiology. Between 2003 and 2007, Dr. Archibald was a Scholar of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Program in Evolutionary Biology, and was subsequently a CIFAR Fellow in the Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program (2012-2017). Dr. Archibald is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and in 2022 was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2019 Dr. Archibald was awarded the Miescher-Ishida Prize from the International Society of Endocytobiology for his work on the biology of symbiosis.

Jeanne Manery-Fisher Memorial award

This award is given in honour of the late Jeanne Manery Fisher, Professor of Biochemistry, University of Toronto. Dr. Fisher was not only an outstanding biochemist, but a remarkable teacher. She was instrumental in creating the Society’s Equal Opportunity Committee and fought diligently for the position of women in science. This award recognizes an eminent Canadian woman scientist who has a distinguished career in the fields of biochemistry, molecular or cellular biology or genetics, resulting from her outstanding contributions to research, teaching or society.

Winner: Sylvie Mader, PhD

Syvie Mader

Principal Investigator, Molecular Targeting in Breast Cancer Treatment Research Unit, IRIC

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal

Research unit on molecular targeting in breast cancer

Born in Paris, France, Sylvie Mader trained in biochemistry and virology at the École Normale SupĂ©rieure de Paris, the UniversitĂ© Paris VI and the Institut Pasteur. She then joined Professor Pierre Chambon’s team at Strasbourg’s UniversitĂ© Louis Pasteur for a PhD in biochemistry, which she completed in 1991. Her work contributed to understanding how several hormones and vitamins have a specific impact on gene expression. She then undertook a post-doctoral training at McGill University in Professor Nahum Sonenberg’s team, where she uncovered a new mechanism for controlling protein synthesis.

In 1995, she joined the Biochemistry Department at the Université de Montréal and launched a research program on breast cancer focused on the control of estrogen signaling, which contributes to breast tumor progression in around two-thirds of tumors. She was recruited by the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) in 2005, where she has been studying the causes of breast cancer heterogeneity and the mechanisms of drug resistance.

She created in 2006 the IRIC summer course in systems biology and cancer, integrated into the Faculty of Medicine’s graduate program in Molecular Biology, a course that she still manages today. It offers a multi-disciplinary basic and translational training for the next generations of cancer researchers with hands-on access to advanced technological approaches.

She held the CIBC Chair in Breast Cancer Research from 2002 to 2018. Diagnosed with the disease herself in 2010, she combines her experience as a survivor and researcher to promote transdisciplinary research aimed at improving breast cancer treatments, in collaboration with clinical researchers and IRICoR, a center of excellence in drug development.

She is proud to have mentored many trainees over the course of her career, who went on to successful careers in a diversity of scientific professions.

Arthur Wynne Gold Medal award

The Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (CSMB) Arthur Wynne Gold Medal is presented by the CSMB to an individual who has made a major contribution to molecular biosciences in Canada over their career. The Medal is named in honor of Professor Arthur M. Wynne, the first President of the Society, and was initiated in 2007 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of CSMB. The recipient is presented with a plaque depicting the likeness of Professor Wynne.

Winner: Guy Sauvageau, MD, PhD

Guy SauvageauPrincipal Investigator, Molecular Genetics of Stem Cells research unit, IRIC, QC, Canada
Professor, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, QC, Canada
Begin-Plouffe Chair in chemo-genomics of stem cells
Hematologist, Stem Cell Transplant Center, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, QC, Canada
Scientific Advisor, Quebec Leukemia Cell Bank, Canada
Scientific founder and CSO, ExcellThera, QC, Canada


Guy Sauvageau is the Principal Investigator of the Molecular Genetics of Stem Cells research unit at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC). He is also a practicing hematologist at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in the bone marrow (stem cell) transplantation program. Dr Sauvageau completed his MD and Hematology training at Université de Montréal and his PhD at UBC in the department of Experimental Medicine (stem cell biology and genetics) under the supervision of Drs Keith Humphries, Peter Lansdorp and Connie Eaves at the Terry Fox Laboratory. He is also the recipient the Bégin-Plouffe Chair in chemogenomics at Université de Montréal. 

Dr. Sauvageau’s laboratory focuses on the characterization of the mechanisms by which normal (and leukemia) blood stem cells uniquely undergo self-renewal divisions, a process deemed critical for successful stem cell transplantation and leukemic outgrowth. Using a well articulated combination of genetic and chemical tools, members of his laboratory, representing more than 125 trainees over the last 28 years, have identified several key determinants of this mechanism of action.
More recently, the Sauvageau team, in collaboration with that of Dr Anne Marinier at IRIC, developed the small molecule UM171 that promotes the expansion of human cord blood-derived stem cells ex vivo. This breakthrough finding has been successfully translated to the clinic under the leadership of Drs. Sandra Cohen and Jean Roy in Canada and Filippo Milano in the US. More than 100 patients have been transplanted with UM171 expanded grafts with outstanding clinical results. In 2023, this data was packaged by ExCellThera, a small biotechnology company co-founded by Guy Sauvageau, to submit a request for accelerated approval in Europe for patients that lack a suitable donor.
Guy Sauvageau is also the  leader of the Leucegene initiative (www.leucegene.ca), co-led by Drs. Josée Hébert (cytogeneticist), Anne Marinier (chemist), Vincent Lavallée (clinical molecular genetics), Sébastien Lemieux (bioinformatician) and several other co-investigators. Leucegene, largely supported by Genome Canada/Québec, represents one of the most comprehensive efforts to characterize the genetics of acute myeloid leukemia and to develop novel therapeutic strategies for this disease. 

Dr. Sauvageau is a highly collaborative and creative scientists, a team builder, and a visionary. In 2003, he spearheaded with Dr. Pierre Chartrand and several other scientists the development of a new system biology institute called IRIC which he led as scientific director and eventually general director for 12 years. During this period, he recruited 27 principal investigators at IRIC. He also played a major role as a co-founder of the center for cell therapy of Montréal at Hopital Maisonneuve-Rosemont with Drs. Jean Roy and Denis-Claude Roy (director) and co-founder of the Québec Leukemia Cell Bank (http://bclq.org ) with Dr. Josée Hébert (director).