Katherine Borden elected to the Royal Society of Canada

Published on September 7, 2022

Professor Katherine Borden, Director of the Structure and Function of the Cell Nucleus Research Unit at IRIC and Full Professor in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology in the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal, has been elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC).

Founded in 1882, the RSC aims to foster interdisciplinarity and the advancement of knowledge, as well as to address issues that are critical to Canada. Fellows are elected by their peers, based on their contributions to the arts, humanities, science and service to Canadians. It is the most prestigious honour that can be bestowed on scholars working in Canada. RSC currently has more than 2,500 academic and artistic Fellows from all regions of Canada.

Katherine Borden is honoured and humbled to join the RSC. “RSC is uniquely positioned to advance knowledge and address a wide range of important topics ranging from COVID to climate change, providing insightful, evidence-based perspectives. I look forward to participating fully in such RSC-based initiatives in areas where my expertise can be useful,” she says.


Recognition of a true pioneer

For more than 20 years, Katherine Borden has been breaking new ground and pushing the boundaries of knowledge in RNA biology. A world-renowned expert, Professor Borden has discovered new functions for the eIF4E protein in the maturation and nuclear export of messenger RNAs (mRNAs), completely overturning what was previously known in the field. Moreover, her work demonstrated that these new functions of eIF4E contribute to its carcinogenic capacities. Through molecular, structural and cellular biology approaches, she has further transformed the way mRNA maturation was understood.

“I am very excited that we were able to make several discoveries and contributions that showcase how cancer cells can hijack genetic information by impacting on several facets of RNA metabolism, which in turn influence the production of cancer-causing proteins,” says Katherine Borden.

These fundamental discoveries in mRNA biology have paved the way for novel clinical trials targeting eIF4E, translation and export of mRNAs for the first time in humans. These pan-Canadian studies have shown promising results, with remissions even being observed in a subset of people with acute myeloid leukemia. Katherine Borden’s work has established the therapeutic relevance of these new targets, generating international interest in targeting them in other types of cancer.

“Humanly speaking, our pioneering clinical studies are a great source of pride; they have opened a new therapeutic dimension for many cancers. None of this would be possible without the excellent work of my team, past and present. Thank you all!” – Katherine Borden.

Professor Borden’s work is a brilliant example of how curiosity-driven basic research can lead to a revolution in the understanding of a disease, ultimately leading to therapeutic gains.