Prestigious Canada Gairdner Award honours Dr. Antoine Hakim’s championing of stroke prevention and treatment

Posted on Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dr. Antoine Hakim / Le Dr Antoine Hakim

Dr Antoine Hakim. Photo: John Major Photography

The extensive career of world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Antoine Hakim has not only helped transform stroke from a devastating condition to one that is treatable; it has also now earned him a major international scientific prize, a prestigious 2017 Canada Gairdner Award.

Each year, the awards honour the world’s most significant biomedical and global health researchers. Today, the Gairdner Foundation has awarded Dr. Hakim, professor in Neurology at the University of Ottawa and Senior Neurologist at The Ottawa Hospital, the 2017 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for “outstanding research into stroke and its consequences and championing stroke prevention and treatment in Canada and beyond.” The Gairdner awards have been nicknamed the ‘baby Nobels’ as 83 winners have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.  

“We are pleased to bring Dr. Antoine Hakim into the Gairdner family of more than 360 laureates,” said Dr. Janet Rossant, President & Scientific Director of the Gairdner Foundation. “His leadership in the area of stroke research has completely changed attitudes about the condition from devastating to one that is preventable and treatable.” 

Dr. Hakim’s work to better understand the mechanisms of strokes, establish the Canadian Stroke Network and develop a national strategy for stroke prevention and treatment has shifted the paradigm of the disease. Patients and caregivers now recognize the signs and have the tools and know-how to take swift action. With quicker action and better care, more patients are going home to lead normal lives.

“The University is proud to support Dr. Hakim’s leading-edge research on stroke prevention and treatment,” said Mona Nemer,  Vice-President, Research at the University of Ottawa. “Dr. Hakim’s work demonstrates how research can have a direct and positive impact on outcomes for patients.”

“Over the last 25 years, Dr. Hakim has played a leading role in stroke care and research at The Ottawa Hospital,” said Dr. Duncan Stewart, Executive Vice-President of Research at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa. “He has saved countless lives, transformed our understanding of stroke and inspired a generation of researchers and physicians.”

The University interviewed Dr. Hakim about his research and winning this prestigious award.

What is it about your work and career that has caught the attention of the Gairdner Foundation?
Research has shown that the brain tissue surrounding a stroke’s core can ‘hold its breath’ and come back to life when a clot-busting drug is administered quickly. We needed to develop an action plan and educate people on how to recognize signs of stroke and act as quickly as possible to save lives. Assembling the Canadian Stroke Network and developing a national strategy, including toolkits, education programs, best practice guidelines and a better coordination of services, has played a tremendous role in reducing the devastating impact of stroke on citizens and society. I was very honoured to work with a committed and effective team.

So your work is directly saving lives and health care dollars?
Within five years of coming out with the national strategy, referrals to stroke prevention clinics in Ontario increased by 34% and stroke patient admissions decreased by 11%. By 2015, eight Canadian provinces had implemented stroke strategies using our models, helping lower stroke mortality. Happily, thousands of people are regaining their normal lives, and billions of dollars are being saved by the Canadian health care system.

What else can we learn from your extensive career researching the brain?
A dreaded consequence of stroke and vascular disease is dementia. By reducing vascular risk factors in individuals and populations, we can actually reduce the incidence of dementia in society. Years of observing the interactions between these conditions have enabled me to write a book compiling solid advice for patients and the general public to help ward off dementia and keep their brains operating at full capacity.

Read more about Dr. Hakim’s research on the stroke-dementia connection

Read the Gairdner Foundation’s news release (pdf)

The University of Ottawa—A crossroads of cultures and ideas
The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada’s top 10 research universities—our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today’s challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe.

About The Ottawa Hospital: Inspired by research. Driven by compassion: The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals with over 1,100 beds, approximately 12,000 staff and an annual budget of over $1.2 billion. Our focus on research and learning helps us develop new and innovative ways to treat patients and improve care. As a multi-campus hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, we deliver specialized care to the Eastern Ontario region, but our techniques and research discoveries are adopted around the world. We engage the community at all levels to support our vision for better patient care. See www.ohri.ca for more information about research at The Ottawa Hospital.

Media inquiries

Amélie Ferron-Craig
Media Relations Officer
Cell: 613-863-7221
aferronc@uOttawa.ca

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