Canada Hosts Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative for First Time

International lecture series featuring Nobel Laureate in Chemistry inspires next generation of Canadian scientists and researchers

MISSISSAUGA, ON, October 2, 2019 – Last week, for the first time, Canada hosted the prestigious Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative featuring Nobel Laureate Dr. Martin Chalfie, a professor of biological sciences at Columbia University who helped revolutionize the study of proteins with his pioneering work in Green Fluorescent Protein.  The tour connected Dr. Chalfie with university students and young researchers eager for the opportunity to engage with one of the world’s leading scientists as they start to carve out their own path to scientific discovery.

Organized by Nobel Media, the company managing media rights for the Nobel Prize, in partnership with biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the Initiative provides an opportunity for Nobel Laureates to shed light on topics of interest to young scientists and researchers. During his three-day Canadian tour, Dr. Chalfie openly shared his career challenges and achievements, and provided inspirational insights into the elements that can influence scientific success. Students and researchers had the opportunity to speak with the Nobel Laureate about everything from the future of science to how to maintain a good work-life balance when pursuing a scientific career.  The tour included talks at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Queen’s University, and McGill University.

“I was thrilled to engage with young Canadian scientific talent and honoured to deliver the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative’s first lecture series in Canada,” said Dr. Chalfie. “I know first-hand that doing science can be frustrating at times, with ups and downs, but when you reach that ‘aha moment’ of discovery, that’s when we realize how much fun we’re having.  I firmly believe that progress is made through collaboration, partnerships, and sharing knowledge and insights. I’m hopeful that by sharing my own personal experiences that I have helped inspire tomorrow’s scientists on their path to scientific discovery.”

Dr. Chalfie’s Nobel Prize-awarded research focused on the discovery and development of Green Fluorescent Protein which emits a shimmering light, or a luminous biologic tag for various biological phenomenon. As a ‘glowing marker,’ it helps scientists see processes, such as the development of nerve cells or how cancer spreads, that were previously invisible. Dr. Chalfie’s discovery is helping bioscientists around the world to more precisely map the role of different proteins in the body, which is critical to better understanding disease.

“As a global partner of the Initiative since 2010, we were delighted to support Dr. Chalfie’s tour and to give Canadian students access to such an inspirational talent,” said Mark Findlay, vice-president, cardiovascular, renal and metabolic disease at AstraZeneca. “At AstraZeneca, we believe that science can change the world. That’s why science is at the centre of everything we do, and why we work every day to push the boundaries of science to deliver life-changing medicines. It is an honour to support the Initiative which helps inspire young scientists to push those boundaries as well.”

“Dr. Chalfie reassured us that there is always more research to do; not everything has been discovered,” said Elizabeth Osterlund, PhD candidate, biochemistry. “And even if we fail, we shouldn’t be discouraged and give up.” Alex Caschera, MSc, molecular science, agreed. “I liked what he had to say about grades – while they are relevant, it is our resiliency in overcoming failure and our perseverance that really matters. Failure isn’t the end; often, it’s just the beginning. “The session has helped me feel more optimistic about the future of scientific discovery,” added Elizabeth.

During the tour, Queen’s University hosted a panel discussion entitled Failure, persistence and joy: finding the right balance for research success with Dr. Chalfie as well as Queen’s own Nobel Laureate Dr. Arthur Bruce McDonald (Physics, 2015), and Dr. Mona Nemer, chief science advisor to Canada’s Prime Minister, Minister of Science and Cabinet. The public event was moderated by André Picard, health reporter and columnist for The Globe and Mail.

“We were thrilled to bring the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative to Canada for the first time,” said Adam Smith, Chief Scientific Officer of Nobel Media. “We have now visited 15 countries, bringing inspiration to the next generation of scientists. Each visit is so rewarding and it has been particularly encouraging to witness the engagement and enthusiasm of the young scientists we met in Toronto, Kingston and Montreal. We leave, once again, with renewed excitement about the future of scientific discovery.”


About the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative  

The Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative is a global program designed to help Nobel Laureates share their inspirational stories and insights. By taking Nobel Laureates on visits to universities and research centres around the world, and by capturing their thoughts on video, the Initiative seeks to bring the Laureates into closer contact with the worldwide scientific community, and especially with an audience of young scientists.

The Initiative is organized by Nobel Media, the company managing media rights for the Nobel Prize, in partnership with AstraZeneca, a global innovation-driven biopharmaceutical company that focuses on scientific leadership as a key strategic priority. Since 2010, Nobel Media and AstraZeneca have together arranged events in China, India, Japan, South Korea, Europe, Russia, Brazil and the United States.

To read more about the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative, please visit:


About Nobel Media

Nobel Media spreads knowledge about Nobel Prize-awarded achievements and stimulates interest in science, literature and peace in line with Alfred Nobel’s vision and legacy. The company reaches a global audience of millions through its high-quality productions: The official digital channels of the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Prize Concert, as well as a series of intercontinental, inspirational lecture events featuring Nobel Laureates. The company also manages a portfolio of publishing licenses, footage sales, and live broadcast rights to the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies.

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Nobel Media®, Nobel Prize® and® are registered trademarks of the Nobel Foundation.

Disclaimer: Nobel Media AB is not directly or indirectly involved in the process of nominating or selecting Nobel Laureates. These procedures are strictly confidential and regulated by the Nobel Prize awarding institutions.


About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of primary and specialty care medicines that transform lives. Our primary focus is on three important areas of healthcare: Cardiovascular and Metabolic disease; Oncology; and Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity. AstraZeneca operates in more than 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. In Canada, we employ more than 675 employees across the country and our headquarters is located in Mississauga, Ontario. For more information, please visit the company’s website at

Cathy Metson

AstraZeneca Canada

Hibaq Ali
Weber Shandwick



  • 2019
  • October