Dr. Albert Aguayo
© Irma Coucill and the CMHF
© Irma Coucill and the CMHF

Born: July 16, 1934, Argentina
Induction Category: Excellence in Health Research
Education: MD University of Córdoba, Argentina, 1959

Born in Argentina, Dr. Albert Aguayo is a pioneer and an unquestionable leader in neural regeneration. Dr. Aguayo's groundbreaking research initiated a rebirth of regenerative medicine by demonstrating nerve fibres within the central nervous system were capable of regeneration. An eminent neuroscientist with a contagious passion for discovery, Dr. Aguayo's enthusiastic and generous spirit has inspired many prominent investigators.

Dr. Aguayo trained in neurology at Toronto and McGill universities after graduating in medicine from the University of Córdoba in Argentina. In 1967 he was appointed an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University. Although trained in clinical neurology, Dr. Aguayo pursued his love of experimental studies, and focused his career on basic research in neurobiology.

As a highly-skilled researcher and visionary thinker, Dr. Aguayo's innovative experiments between 1975 and 1985 revolutionized regenerative neuroscience, questioning the central dogma of the time that neurons could not regenerate. By utilizing some of the most advanced anatomical and physiological techniques then available, his team was the first to show that nerve fibres and function in the central nervous system of adult mammals could be restored after injury. Neural repair today stands in a prominent position due to his exceptional research.

Through his dedication and commitment, Dr. Aguayo has influenced numerous scientific organizations. He served as director of the Centre for Research in Neuroscience at McGill University for 15 years. In 1987, he was elected president of the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Aguayo demonstrated visionary skill in implementing new policies while serving on the International Brain Research Organization, first as secretary general from 2000 to 2005, and then as president from 2006 to 2008. As a keynote speaker and teacher promoting research and science education he has traveled worldwide. The author of more than 150 scientific publications, he has served on the editorial board of 26 journals and received honourary degrees from the universities of Lund and Queen’s.

Appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1984, and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1993, Dr. Aguayo has received many honourary memberships and awards in Canada and abroad. A recipient of the Gairdner International Prize (1988), he was also awarded the prestigious Canadian Medical Association's F.N.G. Starr Award in 2005 and McGill’s Medal for Exceptional Academic Achievement in 2010. An annual lecture in his name was established at McGill University, and a Fellowship in Neurosciences bearing his name was created by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) to support the training of students from developing countries in Quebec.