CHILD Deputy Director Dr. Meghan Azad receives Canada Gairdner Award

Dr. Meghan Azad, Deputy Director the CHILD Cohort Study (CHILD), has been awarded a prestigious 2024 Canada Gairdner Momentum Award. The accolade recognizes her as a globally leading researcher for her groundbreaking work on human breastmilk, the infant microbiome and the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD).

“I am deeply honoured to receive this award,” said Azad, “but is an honour that I did not earn alone. I am profoundly grateful to all the colleagues and trainees who have worked alongside me, and to all the volunteers who participate in the studies that enable my research.

“I owe a special debt of appreciation to CHILD, the Canadian birth cohort study that has been the launchpad for my accomplishments as a researcher. I am proud to continue as one of the study’s leaders and I hope that my fellow CHILD scientists and the families participating in it share my pride on this occasion.”

Dr. Azad is a professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba and a researcher with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM). She co-founded the Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre (MILC), established the International Milk Composition Consortium (IMiC), and is director of the multidisciplinary THRiVE Discovery Lab.

Her world-leading studies of breastmilk as a biological system have won her many previous recognitions, including a major grant from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2023, the Steacie Prize in 2022, membership in the Royal Society of Canada in 2021, a CSCI Young Investigator Award and being named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2020, and a Canada Research Chair in Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease in 2018.

Dr. Azad’s research has shown associations between breastfeeding and positive health outcomes in children including lower blood pressure as well as reduced risk of asthma and obesity. Her work has influenced the policies of such organizations as the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

“The entire CHILD community applauds Meghan on receiving this fantastic honour,” says CHILD Director Dr. Padmaja Subbarao. “Meghan’s work is advancing our knowledge in important ways while promoting improved maternal and child health worldwide. She is playing an invaluable role in helping CHILD fulfill its amazing potential and continues to be one the study’s strongest spokespersons. This recognition could not be more well-deserved.”

The annual Canada Gairdner Awards celebrate the world’s most creative and accomplished researchers whose work is improving the health and well-being of people around the world. Nearly one in four Gairdner awardees have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. The Canada Gairdner Momentum Award is given to mid-career researchers working in Canada who have produced exceptional scientific research contributions with potential for impact on human health.

University of Manitoba announcement  |  Winnipeg Free Press story  | Globe & Mail story

Meghan with members of her University of Manitoba research team