Alan Bernstein, OC, OOnt, PhD, FRSC became President & CEO of CIFAR in May 2012. CIFAR is a Canadian-based, global, charitable organization that convenes extraordinary minds to address science and humanity’s most important questions.
Dr. Bernstein graduated from the University of Toronto (BSc Honours, Mathematics and Physics), receiving the James Loudon Gold Medal in Physics. Following PhD research with James Till, he did postdoctoral research in London, contributing to the evidence that certain viruses carry a gene required for cancer induction. That research contributed to the Nobel Prize discovery that homologues of these genes are present in the normal human genome. In 1974, he joined the Ontario Cancer Institute, and subsequently joined the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute in 1985, becoming its Director of Research in 1994. His laboratory made significant discoveries on the molecular and cellular basis of cancer and discovered genes controlling stem cells of the blood-forming system and trained many graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who have gone on to stellar careers in Canada and beyond.
In 2000, he was named founding President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). In this role, he led the transformation of health research in Canada, creating Canada’s first health research institutes, and was an early champion of women in science and young scientists. In 2010, Dr. Bernstein became Executive Director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York, where he led an international alliance of organizations funding HIV vaccine research.
A sought-after science advisor, Dr. Bernstein chairs and serves on numerous advisory and review boards around the world, including Stand Up 2 Cancer Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Bernstein has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the McLaughlin Medal of the Royal Society of Canada, the Award of Excellence from the Genetics Society of Canada, the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award, the Henry Friesen International Prize in Health Research, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and appointment to the Orders of Canada and Ontario.