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The Archives: FEST 2012

Michael Hayden

Dr. Michael R. Hayden

Dr. Michael Hayden is a Killam Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine.  He is also the Director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) in Vancouver, Canada; a genetic research center within UBC and located at the Child and Family Research Institute. 

Michael was the top graduate in medicine (1975) from the University of Cape Town, where he also received his PhD in Genetics (1979). He completed a post-doctoral fellowship and further training in Internal Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Michael is board-certified in both Internal Medicine and Clinical Genetics.  Author of over 700 peer-reviewed publications and invited submissions, Michael focuses his research primarily on genetic diseases, including genetics of lipoprotein disorders, Huntington’s disease, predictive and personalized medicine. Michael and his research group have identified 10 disease-causing genes which includes the identification of the major gene underlying high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in humans. This gene, known as ABCA1, has major implications for atherosclerosis and diabetes. Michael also identified the first mutations underlying Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) Deficiency and developed gene therapy approaches to treat this condition. He is also co-leader of the Canadian Pharmacogenomics Network for Drug Safety project, a BC-led Genome Canada-funded, national strategy to prevent adverse drug reactions. He is the most cited author in the world for ABCA1 and Huntington Disease.

Michael is the recipient of numerous prestigious honours and awards. Most recently, in May 2011, he received the Aubrey J. Tingle Prize which is given to a clinician scientist whose work in health research is internationally recognized and has significant impact on advancing clinical or health services and policy research in BC and globally. In April 2011, he received the Margolese National Brain Disorder Prize, awarded to Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to the treatment, amelioration, or cure of brain diseases; the Killam Prize by the Canada Council of the Arts, in recognition of his outstanding career achievements. In March 2011, he was the recipient of the Genome BC Award for Scientific Excellence for his outstanding contributions to the development of British Columbia’s life sciences industry; and the Canada Gairdner Wightman award, recognizing him as a physician-scientist who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science. In December 2010, he was awarded the Order of Canada, which is the highest honour that Canada can give its citizens for exceptional achievement, merit or service. He also was awarded the Jacob Biely Prize which is UBC’s premier research prize in 2010. In 2009, Michael was awarded the Order of British Columbia. This highest form of recognition by the Province is given to a select few who have have served with the greatest distinction and benefited the people of the Province, Canada and the world. In June 2009, Michael was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Alberta. In 2008 he was named Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year by CIHR and was also one of the five finalists of the Globe and Mail’s 2008 Nation Builder competition which is equivalent to Canada’s Person of the Year. In 2007 he received the Prix Galien, which recognizes the outstanding contribution of a researcher to Canadian pharmaceutical research. Michael was elected to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2005, the Royal Society of Canada in 1995, the Board of the American Society of Human Genetics in 1994 and the American Society of Clinical Investigation in 1992.

Michael is also the founder of three successful biotechnology companies- NeuroVir, Xenon Genetics, Inc., and Aspreva Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In 2006, Michael received 5 different Entrepreneurial Awards including the Career Achievement Award from the BC Innovation Council and he received the BC Biotech Life Sciences award for Company of the Year.

Michael has trained more than 40 graduate students and 75 postdoctoral fellows. Many of his students have won national and international awards ranking highest in national competitions. Two of Michael’s students have received the Governor General’s Gold award -the most distinguished award given to a graduate student in any field at UBC.

Michael has initiated and leads an international effort to bring benefit to a community living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa. In collaboration with colleagues around the world, he spearheaded and built a youth-friendly recreation, counseling, and Learning Centre in direct partnership with the township of Masiphumelele in Cape Town.  This centre aims to promote responsible sexual behaviors among at-risk youth, empower HIV/AIDS-affected youth, and build a sense of self and community-participation within the township.