Improvements in medical care are increasingly dependent on discoveries of basic research. Nahum Sonenberg, PhD, one of Canada’s preeminent biomedical scientists, has advanced our understanding of viruses, cancer growth and development, memory and cognition, synaptic plasticity, spatial learning, and autism spectrum disorders. The common element in this diversity is Dr. Sonenberg’s insight into the mechanisms of deciphering genetic information to produce proteins, a process known as messenger RNA translation. Dr. Sonenberg’s discovery of eIF4E, the protein that binds mRNA and recruits it to the ribosome to commence translation was a landmark event helping unravel the mechanisms controlling the rate of protein synthesis, the foundation of the modern field of translational control. Dr. Sonenberg has said, “What attracted me to the field was that the nature of proteins and everything that follows—our behaviour, our wellbeing, everything—is dictated by genes.” From Dr. Sonenberg’s insights into genetic functioning, new drug compounds and therapies continue to be developed. A celebrated scientist of world reputation, Dr. Sonenberg has helped realize the health enhancing potential of biochemistry and molecular biology research.