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Alan Bernstein

CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research)
President & CEO

Dr. Alan Bernstein is the President & CEO of CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research) and served as the inaugural president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Bernstein received the AAAS James Loudon Gold Medal in Mathematics and Physics upon graduation with a B.Sc. (honours) from the University of Toronto in 1968. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1972, he did his postdoctoral training at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in London (UK) where he did some of the very earliest work on oncogenes. In 1974, Dr. Bernstein joined the faculty of the Ontario Cancer Institute and the University of Toronto (1974-1985).  In 1985, he was appointed to the new Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto, was named Associate Director in 1988 and then Director of Research (1994-2000).


Over that period, Dr. Bernstein’s research interests focused on the molecular and cellular biology of the multistage nature of the leukemias induced in mice by Friend leukemia virus and the identification and isolation of genes involved in both normal and leukemic stem cell hematopoiesis.

In 2000, Dr. Bernstein became the founding president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada’s federal agency for the support of health research.  In that capacity, he led the transformation of health research in Canada and oversaw almost a threefold increase in the budget for health research in Canada.  In 2008, he became executive director of the New York based Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an international alliance of researchers and funders charged with accelerating the search for an HIV vaccine. 

Dr. Bernstein has received many awards and honorary degrees in recognition of his contributions to health research and for his leadership in the scientific community, including the McLaughlin Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, the Award of Excellence from the Genetics Society of Canada, the Australian Society of Medical Research Medal, and the Robert L. Noble Prize from the National Cancer Institute of Canada.  In 2008, he was awarded the Gairdner Wightman Award. Dr. Bernstein serves and has served on advisory and review boards for government, foundations and research institutions in Canada, Australia, the United States, China and the UK.  Dr. Bernstein is a Senior Fellow of both Massey College and the Munk School of Global Affairs, and in 2002 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.  He was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2015.

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