‘Bute boy makes good’ as Patrick’s cancer drug work is honoured

April 9, 2012 - University of Toronto Mississauga campus Professor Patrick Gunning. Photo by Dave Chan.
April 9, 2012 - University of Toronto Mississauga campus Professor Patrick Gunning. Photo by Dave Chan.

A Bute man’s development of a potentially huge breakthrough in the global fight against cancer is to be honoured at a ceremony in Rothesay.

Organic chemist Patrick Gunning, who was brought up on the island, leads a team of 22 researchers at the University of Toronto which has developed a drug known to cure breast cancer, multiple myeloma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in mice.

Patrick has been announced as the first winner of the Baird of Bute Society Innovation Award, to be presented at a dinner on the island Friday, August 20.

The drug developed by Patrick and his team, has also killed cancerous cells in tumours extracted from human patients, without side effects on healthy cells, and hopes are high of a successful outcome to human trials within the next few years.

Chris Markwell, chairman of the Baird of Bute Society, said: “The Baird of Bute Society motto is ‘to inspire to aspire’ and the fact that Patrick was raised and initially educated on Bute and then went out into the world and has reached such a level of success should be an inspiration to the youth of Bute and all of us.”

Born in Paisley, Patrick received a BSc (Hons) in chemistry from the University of Glasgow in 2001 and a PhD in organic chemistry in 2005.

He was a post-doctoral research associate at Yale University between 2005 and 2007, and is now an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in medicinal chemistry at the University of Toronto.

“I am hugely honoured to receive this award from the Baird of Bute Society,” he said.

The Baird of Bute Society was set up to honour the achievements of Andrew Baird, a humble Bute blacksmith who undertook Scotland’s first heavier-than-air powered flight in 1910, and to encourage others to follow in Baird’s pioneering footsteps.