On October 23, Gairdner prize-winning researchers and two of the most influential people in the world, Demis Hassabis and Lynne E. Maquat, will deliver free public lectures at McGill

The Gairdner Foundation is dedicated to recognizing major research contributions to the treatment of disease and alleviation of human suffering. The Canada Gairdner International Award recognizes outstanding researchers whose unique scientific contributions have increased the understanding of human biology and disease.

On October 23, McGill Research + Innovation will host the 2023 Gairdner National Program Lecture. This year’s program features Canada Gairdner International Award winners, mRNA expert Professor Lynne E. Maquat (2015),  and CEO and Co-Founder of Google DeepMind Demis Hassabis (2023).

AI-based solutions

Named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2023, Demis Hassabis, PhD, brings his message about how AI can accelerate scientific discovery to McGill as part of the 2023 Gairdner lectures. The co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind, an artificial intelligence research laboratory, and founder and CEO of Isomorphic labs which uses AI for drug discovery, Hassabis has led teams of computer scientists and spearheaded AI breakthroughs.

He earned the 2023 Gairdner International Award for developing AlphaFold, which has been heralded as an AI-based solution to the 50-year grand challenge of protein structure prediction and has culminated in the release of the most accurate and complete picture of the structure of the human proteome, with enormous potential to accelerate biological and medical research.

A partnership with the European Bioinformatics Institute of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory has made the structures available in a public database, which means, as Hassabis explained to Science news in 2022, that “you can look up a 3-D structure of a protein almost as easily as doing a key word Google search.”

His impact doesn’t stop there. DeepMind is working on creating artificial general intelligence, or AGI, by building machines that can think, learn, and be set to solve humanity’s toughest problems. As he spearheads these advancements, Hassabis is also a leading voice for ethical AI research, urging caution and for consideration of the long-term societal implications of powerful technologies.

Pioneering researcher 

Joining Hassabis in delivering a lecture is Lynne Maquat, an expert on the molecular basis of human diseases, including mechanisms of mRNA decay. She is focused on the development of therapeutics for diseases that manifest hyperactivated NMD, such as fragile X syndrome, a neurological disorder that leads to intellectual disability and severe learning problems.

Maquat earned the Canada Gairdner International Award in 2015 for the discovery of the mechanism that destroys mutant messenger RNAs in human cells, nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, which is critically important in both normal and disease states. Her talk will focus on this area of expertise, nonsense-mediated mRNA decay in human health and disease.

The consecutive lectures and Q&A will take place on Monday, October 23, , from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m at the Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre in The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital), at 3801 University Street Montreal. Directions to the Jeanne Timmins amphitheatre. A reception will follow.

Please register in advance