Pioneering neurologist and medicinal chemist wins 2011 Jonas Salk Award

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 12:28pm

March of Dimes Canada and Sanofi Pasteur are pleased to announce that Dr. Donald Weaver of Capital Health and Dalhousie University has been selected as winner of the 2011 Dr. Jonas Salk Award for his ground-breaking work into drugs to alleviate neurological conditions associated with seizures and dementia. The award will be formally presented by Mark Lievonen, President Sanofi Pasteur Limited at March of Dimes’ signature fundraising event Ability & Beyond Gala, taking place May 3, 2012 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

Dr. Weaver is the Professor and Canada Research Chair, Tier 1, in Clinical Neuroscience at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His research focuses on the design and synthesis of novel drugs for the treatment and, eventual cure of, chronic neurological disorders, like epilepsy, Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Multiple lead compounds developed in his laboratory at the  Dalhousie University have demonstrated significant activity in preclinical studies in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Antiepileptic Drug Development Program.

In addition to his research work, Dr. Weaver teaches medicinal chemistry and neurology to students ranging in levels from undergraduate to allied research professionals. Dr. Weaver is also a prolific writer, having published close to 140 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 10 chapters and is the co-author of five books, one of which is in its third edition. He has given approximately 270 presentations at medical conferences around the world. He is the owner of 20 patents and has filed over 100 patent applications. He has also co-founded six biotech companies to bring his work closer to market and patient use – these companies focus on biotechnology, drug discovery and design.

“Development of drugs to slow down, prevent or cure epilepsy and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease is a major undertaking and Dr. Weaver’s accomplishments in this area have been substantial,” says Dr. Sultan Darvesh of the Department of Medicine (Neurology and Geriatric Medicine) of Capital Health, who supported the nomination of Dr. Weaver for the Award.

"Discovery of such drugs would have significant impact in alleviating disability in these devastating neurological diseases," he continues.

In addition to the Jonas Salk Award, Dr. Weaver has been recognized with numerous awards including the International Centennial Award in Alzheimer’s research, the Weir Mitchell Award for most outstanding neurology research in the world under the age of 40, the Prix Galien Research Award, known as the Nobel Prize of pharmaceutical research, and is the highest distinction worldwide for biopharmaceutical work, and the most prestigious in the field of Canadian pharmaceutical research and innovation, the European Gowers Award for best epilepsy research in the world, Canada’s “Best 40 under 40 Award” and the QEII Silver Jubilee Medal for humanitarian work.

The award is jointly presented by Sanofi Pasteur and March of Dimes Canada and includes a contribution of $10,000 by Sanofi Pasteur in recognition of the recipient's achievement.

With the release of the life saving polio vaccine in 1955, Dr. Jonas Salk established a worldwide reputation as a scientist and a humanitarian.  The Dr. Jonas Salk Award is presented annually to a Canadian scientist, physician or researcher who has made a new and outstanding contribution in science or medicine to prevent, alleviate or eliminate a physical disability.

Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: or

March of Dimes Canada is a nationally registered charitable organization providing support services to people with disabilities, their families and caregivers across Canada. For more information about the award, or the organization, please visit the website at or call 1-800-263-3463. Celebrating 60 Years: 1951 – 2011. One Stop: Opportunities for Independence.