Public Release: 

March of Dimes awards $250K prize to stem cell research, reproductive biology pioneers

Janet Rossant, Ph.D., FRS, FRS(C) and Anne McLaren, DBE, D.Phil, FRS, FRCOG, will share the March of Dimes Prize

March of Dimes Foundation

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IMAGE: Prof. Janet Rossant, chief of research at the Hospital for Sick Children and University professor in the Departments of Medical Genetics & Microbiology and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Toronto. view more

Credit: March of Dimes

TORONTO, CANADA, MAY 7, 2007 - Two internationally renowned experts in mouse development have been chosen by the U.S. -based March of Dimes Foundation to receive the 2007 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology.

Janet Rossant, Ph.D., FRS, FRS(C) and Anne McLaren, DBE, D.Phil, FRS, FRCOG, will share the March of Dimes Prize for their remarkable contributions to science's understanding of the entire cycle of mammalian reproduction and development, using the mouse as a model system. The March of Dimes Prize will be presented here on May 7.

This is the first time the March of Dimes Prize will be shared by two women, and brings to four the total number of women who have received this honor in 12 years.

The March of Dimes Prize is a $250,000 cash award and a silver medal in the design of the Roosevelt dime, in honor of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who founded the March of Dimes.

Prof. Rossant, chief of research at the Hospital for Sick Children and University professor in the Departments of Medical Genetics & Microbiology and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Toronto, is one of Canada's top stem cell researchers. She was among the first to identify placental stem cells and the genes that make them different from embryonic stem cells. "Her work on stem cell development and cell differentiation in mouse embryos has provided unique insight to the study of human birth defects and genetic predispositions to various human disorders, such as cancer," said Dr. Michael Katz, MD, acting medical director and senior vice president for Research and Global Program at the Foundation.

Prof. McLaren is principal research associate at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge, In 1958, she and a fellow scientist reported in the journal Nature that they were the first to successfully grew a mouse embryo in a test tube and then implant it into a mouse uterus to be born naturally -- thus paving the way for human in vitro fertilization. "During a career spanning nearly 50 years, Prof. McLaren has repeatedly pushed forward the boundaries of our knowledge of developmental biology and reproduction," said Dr. Katz.

Prof. McLaren and Prof. Rossant are noted teachers, inspiring the next generations of scientific researchers by mentoring and training many graduate and postdoctoral students in developmental biology.

Both are also well-known leaders and advisors in the bioethics issues posed by advances in reproductive technology.

The March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology has been awarded annually since 1996 to investigators whose research has profoundly advanced the science that underlies the understanding of birth defects. The March of Dimes Foundation created the Prize as a tribute to Dr. Jonas Salk, who received Foundation support for his work to create a polio vaccine.

The March of Dimes Prize will be awarded to Prof. McLaren and Prof. Rossant at a black tie dinner and ceremony at the Le Royal Méridien King Edward in Toronto. CBS sportscaster Greg Gumbel, a member of the Foundation's national Board of Trustees, will host the ceremony.

Also on May 7, Prof. Rossant and Prof. McLaren will deliver the Twelfth Annual March of Dimes Prize Lectures at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre during the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.

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The March of Dimes Foundation is a U.S.-based is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes Foundation funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the Foundation's Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org. The March of Dimes Foundation is not affiliated with March of Dimes Canada.

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