Michael Hayden, 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 former 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 BC Children's Hospital 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 appointed in 2012 as the President of Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
Hayden is the most cited author in the world for HD and ABCA1, and has authored over 850 publications and invited submissions (google scholar citations 63976, h-index 129). In 2008 he 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. In 2010 he was awarded Member of the Order of Canada, following his receipt of the Order of British Columbia in 2009. Hayden received the Canada Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award in 2011, Most recently in 2017, he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. In addition to his academic work, Hayden is also the founder of three biotechnology companies, NeuroVir, Xenon Genetics Inc. and Aspreva Pharmaceuticals.
Hayden’s research focus is primarily on genetic diseases, including genetics of [lipoprotein] disorders, Huntington disease, predictive medicine, personalized medicine and drug development. 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.
Since 20102017- Inductee, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
2015- Research on assessment of target engagement in HD. Named as one of the most influential papers in HD by HD Insights
2015- One of 100 most inspirational and influential persons in Pharma by PharmaVoice
2014- Honorary Doctor of Medicine, University of Gottingen
2014- Luminary of the Year, Personalized Medicine World Conference
2013- Named one of 50 Canadians born in the 20th century who have changed the world in a book by Ken McGoogan (including Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Leonard Cohen, Oscar Peterson and John Kenneth Galbraith)
2012- The Diamond Jubilee Medal, on behalf of HRH Queen Elizabeth II given in recognition of significant contributions and achievements.
2011- Killam Prize, Canada Council of the Arts] given in recognition of outstanding career achievements.
2011- Aubrey J. Tingle Prize, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
2011- Margolese National Prize, University of British Columbia
2011- Canada Gairdner Wightman, Gairdner Foundation
2011- Genome BC Award for Scientific Excellence, LifeSciences British Columbia
2010- Order of Canada
2010- Jacob Biely Faculty Research Prize, University of British Columbia
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.
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.
In 2002, Hayden was part of the cast of the documentary Chasing the Cure which discussed treatments for widespread killer-heart disease, cancer, and bacterial poisoning and how research findings will change the face of medicine in the next 20 years.
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.
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.