Gary Ruvkun, PhD, of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology, (left) is among six top scientists who have been selected to receive the 2008 Gairdner Awards for medical research. Ruvkun was honored for his part — along with Victor Ambrose, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts — in the discovery of microRNAs, which scientists believe will be beneficial in understanding the development of cancer, diabetes and heart failure.
A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Ruvkun is a professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Collaborating with Ambrose, who is co-recipient of the award, Ruvkun began work on microRNAs in 1982. His work at The Ruvkun Lab at the MGH led to several groundbreaking papers revealing a new world of RNA regulations at an unprecedented small scale. Established by the Gairdner Foundation, the Gairdner Awards recognize outstanding contributions by medical scientists whose work will significantly improve the quality of life. Of the past 288 awardees, 70 have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.