In honour of the achievement of John Charles Polanyi, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Government of the Province of Ontario has established a fund to provide annually up to five prizes to outstanding researchers in the early stages of their career who are continuing to post-doctoral studies or have recently started a faculty appointment at an Ontario university. In 2016, the prizes have a value of $20,000 each and are available in the areas broadly defined as Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economic Science.

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