Michael R. Hayden

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For other uses, see Michael Hayden.
Michael R Hayden
Born Cape Town, South Africa
Residence Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Fields Medical genetics, human genetics, personalized medicine
Institutions Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, Child & Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia
British Columbia's Children's Hospital
British Columbia's Children's Hospital
Provincial Health Services Authority
Alma mater Harvard University
University of Cape Town
Notable awards Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award (2011)
Order of Canada (2010)
Order of British Columbia (2009)
Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year - Biomedical and Clinical Research, Canadian Institutes for Health Research CIHR (2008)

Michael Hayden, CM OBC FRSC[1] is a Killam professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Hayden is best known for his research in Huntington disease (HD). He is the founder and director of the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics in Vancouver, Canada; a genetic research centre within UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and affiliated with the Child & Family Research Institute and the BC Children's Hospital Foundation. He is also the Program Director of the Translational Laboratory in Genetic Medicine in Singapore, and was recently appointed as the President of Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries[2][3]

Hayden is the most cited author in the world for HD and ABCA1. In 2010 he was awarded Member of the Order of Canada,[4] following his receipt of the Order of British Columbia in 2009. Hayden received the Canada Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award[5] in 2011, and in 2008 received recognition from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) as Canada's Health Researcher of the Year: CIHR Michael Smith Prizes in Health Research.[6] In addition to his academic work, Hayden is also the founder of three biotechnology companies, NeuroVir, Xenon Genetics Inc. and Aspreva Pharmaceuticals. He is the Chief Scientific Director of Xenon.


Hayden’s research focus is primarily on genetic diseases, including genetics of [lipoprotein] disorders, Huntington disease, predictive and personalized medicine. Along with his research team, Hayden has identified 10 disease-causing genes, which includes the identification of the major gene underlying high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in humans. This gene, known as ABCA1, has major implications for atherosclerosis and diabetes. Hayden also identified the first mutations underlying Lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPL) and developed gene therapy approaches to treat this condition. He is also co-leader of the Canadian Pharmacogenomics Network for Drug Safety project, a BC-led Genome Canada-funded, national strategy to prevent adverse drug reactions.


Hayden was born in Cape Town, South Africa. After the divorce of his parents, when he was eight, Hayden was raised by his single mother. He originally planned on becoming a lawyer but instead opted for medical school, as he soon realized that as a lawyer he would not be able to bring about much change. In 1975, he graduated from the University of Cape Town as the top graduate in medicine, where he also received his PhD in Genetics (1979). He completed a post-doctoral fellowship and further training in Internal Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Michael is board-certified in both Internal Medicine and Clinical Genetics. He moved to Canada and joined UBC in 1983 from the Children’s Hospital in Boston, a teaching arm of Harvard Medical School.

He is married and has four children.


OBC ribbon
  • 2011 - Aubrey J. Tingle Prize from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research which is given to a clinician scientist whose work in health research is internationally recognized and has significant impact on advancing clinical or health services and policy research in BC and globally.
  • 2011 - Margolese National Brain Disorder Prize, awarded to Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to the treatment, amelioration, or cure of brain diseases; the Killam Prize by the Canada Council of the Arts, in recognition of his outstanding career achievements.
  • 2011 - Genome BC Award for Scientific Excellence for his outstanding contributions to the development of British Columbia’s life sciences industry; and the Canada Gairdner Wightman award, recognizing him as a physician-scientist who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science.
  • 2010 - the Order of Canada, which is the highest honour that Canada can give its citizens for exceptional achievement, merit or service. The Jacob Biely Prize which is UBC's premier research prize in 2010.
  • 2009 - the Order of British Columbia, highest form of recognition by the Province given to a select few who have served with the greatest distinction and benefited the people of the Province, Canada and the world.
  • 2009 - Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Alberta.
  • 2008 - Canada’s Health Researcher of the Year by CIHR and was also one of the five finalists of the Globe and Mail’s 2008 Nation Builder competition which is equivalent to Canada’s Person of the Year.
  • 2007 - Prix Galien, which recognizes the outstanding contribution of a researcher to Canadian pharmaceutical research.
  • 2006 - five different Entrepreneurial Awards including the Career Achievement Award from the BC Innovation Council and the BC Biotech Life Sciences award for Company of the Year.


Hayden initiated and led an international effort to bring benefit to a community living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa. In collaboration with colleagues around the world, he spearheaded the development of a youth-friendly recreation, counseling, and Learning Centre in direct partnership with the township of Masiphumelele in Cape Town. This centre aims to promote responsible sexual behaviors among at-risk youth, empower HIV/AIDS-affected youth, and build a sense of self and community-participation within the township.

Art and Science[edit]

In 1999, when Hayden was co-chairing a meeting in Vancouver, for the Human Genome Project, and participants were planning the announcement of the first draft of the sequence, he thought of using art as a way for scientists to enter into a dialogue with the public, as a way to communicate the massive genetic breakthrough and its implications. He commissioned the Electric Company Theatre, to produce a play about genetics. In 2005, with the support of Genome Canada, he commissioned a play, The Score, which tells the story of a brilliant geneticist who discovers that she has the same Huntington gene that killed her mother. Ethical issues and genetic determinism then surface after she discovers that she is pregnant. The Score was adapted for the big screen.

Most recently, as part of CMMT’s 15 year anniversary celebrations, Hayden made the CMMT research laboratories available for an art and science exhibit, featuring the work of local artists that examined the integration of art and science.

Hayden appears in the 2012 documentary movie Do You Really Want to Know? directed by John Zaritsky. In the film, Hayden describes his professional relationship and friendship with Huntington's disease family member and researcher Jeff Carroll and the process of guiding Carroll and his five siblings through genetic testing for the mutation that causes Huntington's.[7]

Hayden is also a subject in the 2013 documentary, ALIVE & WELL, directed by Josh Taft. In the film, he discusses his mission to find a cure for Huntington's Disease.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Claudia Cornwall (April 1, 2008). "In the Genes". BC Business. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  2. ^ Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. (2012). "Dr. Michael Hayden". Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  3. ^ George, John (21 July 2014). "Teva completes deal for second migraine-treatment developer". Phila. Bus. J. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Marie-Eve Letourneau (December 30, 2010). "Appointments to the Order of Canada". The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  5. ^ Gairdner Foundation (2011). "Michael Hayden". Canada Gairdner Foundation. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  6. ^ CIHR (2012). "Michael Hayden". Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  7. ^ "Do You Really Want To Know? Official homepage". Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
 7. ^ "ALIVE & WELL Official homepage". Retrieved 17 May 2013.

Most cited publications[edit]

  1. Brooks-Wilson A, Marcil M, Clee SM, Zhang LH, Roomp K, van Dam M, Yu L, Brewer C, Collins JA, Molhuizen HOF, Loubser O, Ouellette BFF, Fichter K, Ashbourne-Excoffon K, Sensen CW, Scherer S, Mott S, Martindale D, Morgan K, Koop B, Pimstone S, Kastelein JJP, Genest Jr. J, Hayden MR. Mutations in ABC1 in Tangier disease and familial high-density lipoprotein deficiency. Nat Genet. 22:336-45. PMID 10431236 cited 1,014 times
  2. Zuccato C, Ciammola A, Rigamonte D, Leavitt BR, Goffredo D, Conti L, MacDonald M, Friedlander RM, Silani V, Hayden MR, Timmusk T, Sipione S, Cattaneo E. Loss of huntingtin-mediated BDNF gene transcription in Huntington’s Disease. Science. 293:493-8. PMID 11408619 cited 481 times
  3. Andrew SE, Goldberg YP, Kremer B, Telenius H, Theilmann J, Adam S, Starr E, Squitieri F, Lin B, Kalchman MA, Graham RK, Hayden MR. The relationship between trinucleotide repeat length (CAG) and clinical features of Huntington disease. Nat Genet. 4:398-403. PMID 8401589 cited 468 times
  4. Huntington Study Group. Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale: Reliability and Consistency. Mov Disord. 11(2):136-142. PMID 8684382 cited 462 times
  5. Papanikolaou G, Samuels ME, Ludwig EH, MacDonald MLE, Franchini PL, Dubé MP, Andres L, MacFarlane J, Sakellaropoulos N, Politou M, Nemeth E, Thompson J, Risler JK, Zaborowska C, Babakaiff R, Radomski CC, Pape TD, Davidas O, Christakis J, Brissot P, Lockitch G, Ganz T, Hayden MR, Goldberg YP. Mutations in HFE2 cause iron overload in chromosome 1q–linked juvenile hemochromatosis. Nat Genet. 36:77-82. PMID 14647275 cited 416 times
  6. Hodgson JG, Agopyan N, Gutekunst C-A, Smith DM, LePiane F, Leavitt BR, Bissada N, McCutcheon K, Nasir J, Singaraja R, Jamot L, Li X-J, Rosemond E, Roder JC, Phillips AG, Rubin EM, Hersch SM, Hayden MR. A YAC mouse model for Huntington’s disease with full-length mutant huntingtin (httP) cytoplasmic toxicity, nuclear translocation of htt, and selective striatal neurodegeneration. Neuron. 23:181-92. PMID 10402204 cited 412 times
  7. Goldberg YP, Nicholson DW, Rasper DM, Kalchman MA, Koide HB, Graham RK, Bromm M, Kazemi-Esfarjani P, Thornberry NA, Vaillancourt JP, Hayden MR. Cleavage of huntingtin by apopain, a proapoptotic cysteine protease, is modulated by the polyglutamine tract. Nat Genet. 13:442-9. PMID 8696339 cited 400 times
  8. Panov AV, Gutekunst C-A, Leavitt BR, Hayden MR, Burke JR, Strittmatter WJ, Greenamyre JT. Early mitochondrial calcium defects in Huntington’s disease: a direct effect of polyglutamines. Nat Neurosci. 5:731-6. PMID 12089530 cited 378 times
  9. Nasir J, Floresco SB, O’Kusky JR, Diewert VM, Richman JM, Zeisler J, Borowski A, Marth JD, Phillips AG, Hayden MR. Targeted Disruption of the Huntington’s Disease Gene Results in Embryonic Lethality and Behavioural and Morphological changes in Heterozygotes. Cell. 81:811-23. PMID 7774020 cited 329 times
  10. Wellington CL, Ellerby LM, Hackam AS, Margolis RL, Trifiro MA, Singaraja R, McCutcheon K, Salvesen GS, Propp SS, Bromm M, Rowland KJ, Zhang T, Rasper D, Roy S, Thornberry N, Pinsky L, Kakizuka A, Ross CA, Nicholson DW, Bredesen DE, Hayden MR. Caspase cleavage of gene products associated with triplet expansion disorders generates truncated fragments containing the polyglutamine tract. J Biol Chem. 273:9158-67. PMID 9535906 cited 306 times

External links[edit]