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Dr. Amu Sarkar honoured with Order of Canada
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Dr. Amu Sarkar honoured with Order of Canada


Sarkar is known for his work bridging scientific research and clinical care as the first basic scientist at SickKids.

Dr. Amu Sarkar

Dr. Bibudhendra (Amu) Sarkar, a long-standing scientist and the first basic scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest honours.

“Dr. Sarkar is a remarkable scientist and role model for generations of researchers seeking to transform their discoveries into real-world impacts for patients,” says Dr. Stephen Scherer, Chief of Research at SickKids. “We are proud to celebrate his well-deserved appointment to the Order of Canada.”

The Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Sarkar was recognized for advancing medical research in Canada and abroad, including his work bridging scientific research and clinical care at SickKids where he has worked for 60 years.

“I feel very grateful and humbled, and I owe this honour to my students, post-docs, international collaborators, and everyone at SickKids who contributed so much to my research,” says Dr. Sarkar, Senior Scientist Emeritus in the Molecular Medicine program and former head of the Structural Biology Program from 1990 to 2002. The program, which he founded, is one of the leading centres for structural biology in Canada.   

Bridging clinical care and basic research

Black and white image shows two men dressed in doctor coats with three children on a doctor's table.
1973, Sarkar pictured in the middle and Sass-Kortsak on the right consulting with patients on Wilson Disease.

A pioneer of inorganic biochemistry, Sarkar’s multidisciplinary research approach combined the fields of inorganic chemistry, biophysics, biology and nutritional sciences. Sarkar joined SickKids in 1964 after meeting Dr. Andrew Sass-Kortsak, a physician in clinical and metabolic genetics at SickKids, at a conference in Chicago.

While basic research is one of the strengths of the SickKids Research Institute today, research at the time was largely clinical. Sarkar and Sass-Kortsak’s collaboration played an integral role in bridging clinical care and basic science, informing Sarkar’s discovery of copper-histidine, published in Biochemistry of Copper in 1966, which has been the only viable treatment and therapy for children with Menkes disease since 1976.

Sarkar has also made major scientific impact with his international humanitarian work. In South and Southeast Asia, he leads an international team of volunteer scientists to produce maps of arsenic and other toxic metals in groundwater, identifying areas where contamination is of notable concern. In many of these villages tens of thousands of people, including children, are exposed to naturally occurring toxic metals in their drinking water from underground wells, a global issue that may be further magnified by climate change.

“Dr. Sarkar’s appointment to the Order of Canada reflects a history of discoveries that have translated into better care and outcomes for children, the impacts of which have been felt around the world” says Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of SickKids.

In addition to Sarkar’s appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada, Dr. Daphne Maurer, Professor Emeritus at McMaster University and former Adjunct Scientist at SickKids, was recognized as an Officer of the Order of Canada. Congratulations to both Sarkar and Maurer on this distinction.

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