On November 12th, 2019, in London (UK), Olivier Bernard, pharmacist and science communicator from Montreal, was awarded the John Maddox Prize for his work on the topic of injectable vitamin C. He is the first Canadian to win this award, and has been selected from more than 200 candidates worldwide.
The John Maddox Prize is a joint initiative of the British charity Sense about Science and the scientific journal Nature, and aims to “recognize the work of individuals who promote science and scientific evidence, advancing public discussion around difficult topics, despite challenges or hostility”.
In 2018, Mr Bernard published on his website a scientific article about vitamin C injections in cancer patients, in response to a petition asking for approval and coverage of these injections. He then challenged a political move of a local member of parliament in this regard, while the petition had collected more than 120,000 signatures. In February 2019, Mr Bernard denounced a campaign of cyberbullying, harassment and doxing against him, generating a wave of support from many scientists and professional associations. The petition was ultimately rejected by the National Assembly of Quebec and government working groups were created to prevent such incidents in the future.
“As an early career pharmacist, you have taken on a high level of social responsibility and scientific communication,” says Tracey Brown, director of Sense about Science”. The official announcement will soon be published in Nature.
Mr Bernard was nominated for this award by Marilou Gougeon, a local citizen suffering from an incurable cancer and who is committed to defending the rights of patients to have access to science- and evidence-based treatments. His nomination was further supported by a recommendation from Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Quebec.