Past research was recognized and future research made possible at the annual Ottawa Hospital Gala Saturday night.

Three world-class medical researchers were honoured for their work alongside a celebration of millions of dollars raised by the community.

“We’re celebrating that, in the last 12 months, the Ottawa community has responded in such a significant way that we have raised and we’re transferring to research . . . $6.2 million,” said Tim Kluke, president and CEO of the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

“The community has to rally behind its hospital and its research institute and this is another great example at how caring Ottawa is,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

Among those honoured was Dr. Philip Wells, called one of the godfathers of researching thrombosis (blood clots in deep veins, commonly in the legs).

“It’s a tremendous honour because it was chosen by my colleagues,” he said of his career achievement award.

“It shows they recognize the important work that I’ve done and peer recognition is always the most important recognition – they understand what you do and the type of effort you put into it.”

Also honoured was Dr. Vahab Soleimani for his work on muscle stem cells.

“To have proper muscle regeneration, you need to know how muscle stem cells function,” he said of the work leading to his Researcher in Training award.

“You can actually use the potential of this muscle stem cell to treat a lot of diseases such as muscular dystrophy.”

Finally, Dr. David Picketts was named Researcher of the Year for discovering a specific gene that activates brain stem cells.

“In instances where we have brain injuries or strokes, we can use drugs that maybe target (gene) SNF2L to help stem cells grow and repair the tissues,” he said.

Dr. Picketts said the work done by people at the gala show how investing in research can save lives.

“Research takes time sometimes and yet we find it very exciting that we can find something that’s unanticipated and drives us in a new direction towards a therapy or treatment,” he said.

The gala itself raised almost $200,000 for equipment upgrades, patient care and more research.

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Katie Griffin