V. Wee Yong, PhD, is the recipient of the 2017 J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine.
Yong is a world-leading multiple sclerosis (MS) researcher at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary who has dedicated his career to understanding the disease and translating his findings in the lab into new treatments.
Most recently, Yong and his team demonstrated that a common acne medication called minocycline delays the onset of MS for patients in the early stages of the disease. While working in his lab nearly two decades ago, Yong discovered that it seemed minocycline could reduce immune cells from attacking the brain. The results of a Phase III clinical trial proving its efficacy were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Dr. Yong’s elegant work over many years demonstrates that it takes almost a lifetime to advance fundamental discoveries in the laboratory into innovative therapies that benefit MS patients,” said Ravi Menon, PhD, Professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, scientist at Robarts and member of the prize committee. “From a field of stellar international nominees, it is particularly satisfying to award the Taylor Prize to a Canadian researcher in this, Canada’s 150th year.”
Yong is a Canada Research Chair in Neuroimmunology and Professor at the University of Calgary. He co-directs the MS NeuroTeam of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Calgary and directs the Alberta MS Network. Dr. Yong is on the editorial board of seven international journals, and he is an elected fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada. He has been the President of the International Society of Neuroimmunology where he co-founded the Americas and the Global Schools of Neuroimmunology to train the next generation of researchers.
“Dr. Yong has made transformative advances in the MS field that cover the spectrum from fundamental research to the development of ground-breaking therapeutic strategies for MS treatment. He is a leader in MS research both nationally and internationally, and plays a key leadership role in the MS community in Canada. We look forward to welcoming Dr. Yong to London,” said Marlys Koschinsky, PhD, Scientific and Executive Director at Robarts.