Recipients of the 2017 Killam Program are announced

50 years of research impacting the lives of millions in Canada and abroad

May 2, 2017
Killam Prize

Ottawa, May 2, 2017 – The Canada Council for the Arts announced today the winners and recipients of the 2017 Killam Prizes and Fellowships. Celebrating 50 years of research and innovation, this prestigious program recognizes working scientists, writers, doctors and researchers who have dedicated their careers to solving challenges in our daily lives. They risk, innovate and lead the next generation of brilliant minds to a stronger future.

Killam Prizes

The Killam Prize honors eminent Canadian scholars and scientists actively engaged in research, whether in industry, government agencies or universities. Winners are a vibrant group of scholars, whose lifetime of work has impacted the lives of Canadians and citizens around the world. Each will receive a $100,000 prize and be honoured at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on May 30th.

  • Social SciencesJohn Borrows, University of Victoria, is a scholar and lawyer specializing in Indigenous legal rights and comparative constitutional law. He is a strong supporter of incorporating Indigenous legal concepts into the practice of Canadian Law. Dr. Borrows is Anishinaabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario, Canada.
  • Natural Sciences W. Ford Doolittle, Dalhousie University, is an evolutionary and molecular biologist integrating the philosophy of biology and genomic research on notions of the “tree of life” and Gaia Theory. His work in molecular genetics includes the study of lateral gene transfer, a key driver of microbial evolution and the proposition of an alternative “web of life” theory.
  • Humanities Tom Hurka, University of Toronto, is a philosopher whose research and teaching are about moral and political philosophy, especially normative ethical theory and asking the question “What makes a good life?” According to Dr. Hurka, the answer is pleasure, knowledge, achievement, virtue, and friendship.
  • Health SciencesJulio Montaner, University of British Columbia, is a physician and HIV/AIDS researcher credited for saving millions of lives worldwide with his bold work on Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy and championing the “Treatment as Prevention” Strategy. He is also a supporter of harm reduction, including safe injection sites and needle exchange programs and is currently working with the World Health Organization on prevention strategies for viral hepatitis.
  • EngineeringMolly Shoichet, University of Toronto, is a researcher whose work centers on tissue and polymer engineering, focusing on targeted drug delivery, tissue regeneration and stem cell research. She is a strong advocate of women in science and technology careers and is widely considered to be one of the world’s finest scientists.

Killam Research Fellowships

Over two years, $840,000 will be awarded in Killam Research Fellowships, granting six scholars full teaching and administrative release so they may pursue independent research on a specific project.

  • Roberto Abraham, University of Toronto – Project: Probing the Low Surface Universe with Dragonfly
  • Deborah J Cook, McMaster University – Project: Modifying the Microbiome in Critical Illness: The Potential of Probiotics
  • Eric Helleiner, University of Waterloo – Project: Globalizing the Classical Foundations of International Political Economy
  • Dominic McIver Lopes, University of British Columbia – Project: Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value
  • Louis Taillefer, Université de Sherbrooke – Project: High-temperature Superconductivity
  • Christine Wilson, McMaster University – Project: Dense Gas and Star Formation in Galaxies: An ALMA Archival Project


These outstanding scholars are finding ways to solve some of the most complex problems of our times, helping us to better understand the world we live in, the society that shapes us, and the universe we inhabit,” said Canada Council Director and CEO Simon Brault. “Like the artists we support, the 2017 Killam Prize and Research Fellowship recipients are on a quest for excellence and innovation, taking risks, imagining better futures and turning their insatiable curiosity into discoveries that benefit us all.

This year the Killam Trusts celebrate 50 years as one of the largest private philanthropic gifts to higher education in Canada,” said Killam Trusts Managing Trustee George Cooper. “As Mrs. Killam wished, our laureates continue to sparkle in the landscape of advanced research in this country.  Together with our partner the Canada Council, who administers the Killam Prize and Research Fellowships, we warmly welcome the 2017 Prize and Fellowship holders to the Killam family and celebrate their innovative contributions to research excellence in Canada

Learn more about the Killam program

  • Winners and recipients are chosen by a selection committee of their peers.
  • The Killam Prize was first awarded in 1981.
  • Previous recipients include David Suzuki, Victoria Kaspi, Mark Wainberg, Nobel Prize winner Arthur MacDonald.
  • The Canada Council received a donation through the will of Mrs. Dorothy J. Killam in 1965 to establish a Fellowship program (1968).
  • In total, the Killam Trusts are valued at approximately $450 million, of which the Canada Council portion is $57 million.

Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national public arts funder. We champion and invest in artistic excellence so that Canadians may enjoy and participate in a rich cultural life. In 2015-16 we allocated $157.4 million dollars towards artistic creation and innovation through our grants, prizes and payments. We also conduct research, convene activities and work with partners to advance the sector and help embed the arts more deeply in communities across the country. We are responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO to contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable future for Canadians. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.


Media Contact

Joly-Anne Ricard

Communications Advisor


613-566-4414, ext. 4166

Toll free: 1-800-263-5588, ext. 4166

Cell: 343-998-2627

Josephine Laframboise 

Communications Advisor

Rideau Hall contact for May 30th Prize Presentation 



Tous les documents du Conseil des arts du Canada sont offerts en français et en anglais.