INRS awards an honorary doctorate to Nahum Sonenberg and celebrates his graduates

Write by Audrey-Maude Vézina et Sophie Laberge

November 4, 2020

( update : November 10, 2020 )

Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) is proud to announce that McGill University biochemist and professor Nahum Sonenberg will be awarded an honorary doctorate during the virtual graduation ceremony on November 28th. This ceremony highlights and celebrates the success of INRS’s 134 graduates. In total, 56 PhDs, 64 master’s degrees and 15 professional master’s degrees will be awarded.

Crédit : April Owen Egan

Nahum Sonenberg

Chairholder of the Gilman Cheney Chair in Biochemistry and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and the Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill University, Dr. Nahum Sonenberg is a model of perseverance, a dedicated and passionate professor. His research has led to astonishing breakthrough findings regarding RNA, a biological molecule essential in transporting the genetic message and in synthesizing proteins.

“Dr. Sonenberg’s significant contribution to biomedical research and to advancing knowledge on a variety of diseases is undeniable. His inspiring career, marked by major discoveries, has revolutionized today’s medicine and deserves the highest honours,” said Luc-Alain Giraldeau, INRS Director General. “It is important to recognize Québec’s great scientists, especially those that stand out on the international scene. This is the case of Professor Sonenberg, whose reputation no longer needs to be proven.”

Recipient of numerous awards, including the 2005 Killam Prize in Health Sciences, he was elected as an international honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006. He also received the Robert L. Noble Prize from the National Cancer Institute of Canada (now the Canadian Cancer Society), the Wolfe Prize in Medicine, the McLaughlin Medal of the Royal Society of Canada, the Order of Canada, and the Gairdner Prize. Professor Sonenberg’s research has been published in respected scientific journals such as Nature, Science and Cell, and has been cited over 100,000 times in academic literature.

“I am immensely honoured to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the INRS. The Institut national de la recherche scientifique is famous worldwide for its research excellence and major contributions to a broad spectrum of scientific fields, declared Dr. Sonenberg. As a basic science researcher for a half a century, I am very proud to accept the honorary doctorate from the INRS.”

Let’s highlight excellence!

The following awards and prizes will also be conferred at the ceremony to students from INRS’s four research centres:

  • International Recognition Award
  • Innovation Award
  • Student Leadership Award
  • Best Master’s Thesis Award
  • Best PhD Thesis Award  

Two graduate students (master’s and PhD) will also be awarded the Director General’s Award of Excellence, and one graduate will receive the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal:

  • INRS Director General’s Awards of Excellence are granted every year to two graduates, one at the master’s level and one at the doctoral level, to recognize the excellence of their outstanding academic record.
  • The Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal is one of the most prestigious awards available to students in Canadian academic institutions. By awarding this medal, the Governor General of Canada promotes academic excellence across the country and acknowledges outstanding individuals.

Graduate recognition

It is worth mentioning that INRS Foundation will award for the first time three Prix Lumières Awards to graduates who have completed their studies in the past years, specifically:

  • The Firestarter Award is given to recent graduates whose promising start to their careers is a source of inspiration for our student community;
  • The Trailblazer Award is given to graduates who have distinguished themselves through their exceptional careers and commitment to their community, both in Québec and around the world;
  • The Starburst Awards honours a graduate who has shown outstanding commitment to INRS’s growth and its contribution to Québec’s economic, social, or cultural development.

An email was recently sent to INRS graduates and community interested in attending this cohort’s celebration of success with their colleagues.