Lab Canada

Award given to Winnipeg scientist for infectious disease research

Toronto, ON – Dr John Dirks, president of the Gairdner Foundation, today announced that Dr Allan Ronald, OC, is the winner of the 2006 Wightman Award, which is given by the Foundation to a Canadian who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science.

The Gairdner Wightman Award is named after the late Professor KGR Wightman, former president of the Gairdner Foundation and Eaton professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. The Wightman has now been awarded 11 times, the latest in 2001 when it was given to Dr Henry Friesen, the driving force behind the creation of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and the chairman emeritus of Genome Canada.

The Gairdner Medical Advisory Board cited Dr Ronald “for his leadership in developing the specialty of clinical infectious disease in Canada and for his exceptional international contribution in Africa.”

In 2002, Dr Ronald retired from a distinguished 35-year career as a professor and medical researcher and then helped develop a comprehensive HIV/AIDS Care and Prevention Program in Uganda. This successful launch of a drug distribution program has received worldwide media coverage.

Born in Portage la Prairie, he trained in Manitoba, Maryland, Washington and Pakistan before returning to the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine in 1968 to head its infectious disease unit. A full professor since 1976, he led the first department of medical microbiology (1976-1985) and then the department of internal medicine (1985-1990) and served as the faculty’s associate dean of research (1993-1999). He also applied his expertise in Winnipeg’s teaching hospitals, initially as head of clinical microbiology and later as physician-in-chief at the Health Sciences Centre and subsequently at St Boniface General Hospital as head of infectious diseases.

In 1979, he was invited to coordinate a research training centre in Nairobi, Kenya, where he and other members of the Faculty of Medicine have significantly advanced HIV/AIDS prevention programs and the understanding of HIV transmission. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Nairobi on over 40 occasions and at the University of Hong Kong where he assisted in the development of an infectious disease program.