McMaster scientist awarded inaugural national prize for excellence in health research

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Gregory Steinberg, a professor of medicine of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, has been awarded a new national prize for outstanding accomplishments early in his career.

Today it was announced Steinberg is the one Canadian scientist to be awarded the Gold Leaf Prize for Outstanding Achievements by an Early Career Investigator by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Steinberg, 41, is also a professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Metabolism and Obesity and the J. Bruce Duncan Chair in Metabolic Diseases. He is also the co-director of the Metabolism and Childhood Obesity Research Program (MAC-Obesity) at McMaster. 

His research is focused on understanding how hormones regulate the body’s storage and breakdown of fat and glucose, with the aim of developing new therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of the interrelated chronic diseases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Over the last decade his research has answered fundamental questions into how cellular energy sensors regulate fat and glucose metabolism and control the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

Steinberg’s translational research program has also revealed new ways that exercise and commonly used medications make a therapeutic difference and he identified new roles of hormones in controlling energy use and metabolism.  This work has great relevance for Canada, where over 6 million people are obese and 10 million people have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

“We are proud of Dr. Steinberg’s achievements, and congratulate him on this prestigious award,” said Paul O’Byrne, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster. “He has already had an important impact on the health of Canadians, and we know he’s just begun.”

Steinberg obtained his PhD in 2002 from the University of Guelph and spent 2002 to 2008 in Australia at the St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research. He joined McMaster in 2008.

Steinberg will receive the award, worth $100,000, from the Governor General of Canada David Johnston at an Ottawa ceremony in May with the winners of three other CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes.

The Gold Leaf Prize for Discovery was awarded to John Dick, a University of Toronto professor, for his work identifying cancer stem cells. The CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Impact went to the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, for its 25 years of care and treatment of the disease. The CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Transformation was given to Charlotte Loppie of the University of Victoria for outstanding leadership in patient engagement with Indigenous peoples.

Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott said of the prizes: “I offer my sincere congratulations to the four recipients of the CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes. From cancer and HIV/AIDS to diabetes and the health disparities facing our Indigenous peoples, your research tackles some of the most pressing health challenges facing Canada. By providing the evidence to inform government policy, your research is contributing to improved health and well-being for all Canadians. Thank you for your important work.”

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