Table 3:

Nobel Prizes won by Gairdner awardees, at any time, or only after a Gairdner award, no. (%)

PeriodBefore and afterAfter*
Canadian-basedInternationalCanadian-basedInternational
1959–19690/1311/560/1311/56
(0.0)(19.6)(0.0)(19.6)
1970–19790/1117/510/1116/51
(0.0)(33.3)(0.0)(31.4)
1980–19891/1126/571/1125/57
(9.1)(45.6)(9.1)(43.9)
1990–19990/619/440/618/44
(0.0)(43.2)(0.0)(40.9)
2000–20090/511/500/510/50
(0.0)(22.0)(0.0)(20.0)
2010–20180/15/440/15/44
(0.0)(11.4)(0.0)(11.4)
Totals1/4789/3021/4785/302
  • * Excludes Satoshi Ōmura, who won the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award in 2014 and a Nobel Prize in 2015. His inclusion brings the total post-Gairdner Nobel laureates to 87, per the foundation’s website. The four prior Nobels were James Watson, Fred Sanger, Har Gobind Khorana and Arthur Kornberg. Watson (Gairdner 2002) received his award as part of a special set of 10 to celebrate the completion of the sequencing of the human genome. He received a Lasker Basic Research Award with Francis Crick and M.H.F. Wilkins in 1960, but only Crick received a Gairdner in 1962, the same year the trio received a Nobel Prize. Arthur Kornberg (Gairdner 1995) shared a Nobel Prize with Severo Ochoa in 1959 for elucidating methods for synthesis of RNA and DNA. His Gairdner prize recognized his ongoing work on DNA replication. Har Gobind Khorana (Gairdner 1980) shared the Nobel Prize with Marshall Nirenberg and Robert Holley in 1968 for contributions to elucidating the role of nucleic acids in transmitting genetic information. In the same year, they received both a Horwitz and Lasker Basic, but only Nirenberg received a Gairdner (1967). Khorana’s first post as an independent investigator was in 1952 at the British Columbia Research Council; The University of British Columbia’s Michael Smith, the sole Canadian-based Nobel laureate in biomedical research in recent decades, was a postdoctoral fellow with Khorana. Although Khorana’s Nobel-related work began during that period, the key breakthroughs occurred after he moved to the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1960. Khorana continued to innovate for years, making contributions that anticipated polymerase chain reaction and, as his Gairdner citation states, “chemical synthesis of a functional gene.” Frederick Sanger (Gairdner 1971) received a Nobel Prize in 1958 for breakthroughs related to insulin and macromolecule synthesis. He won a second Gairdner in 1979, followed by a Lasker Basic and Horwitz in 1979 for his work on DNA sequencing.