Lab Canada

Canadian Medical Association announces annual award winners

Ottawa, ON August 6, 2003 The Canadian Medical Association has announced the winners of its annual awards for 2003: the FNG Starr Award, the Medal of Honour, the Medal of Service and the May Cohen Award for Women Mentors.

The FNG Starr Award is being presented to Dr Allan R Ronald of Winnipeg. Named for Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr (1867-1934), a former secretary general of the association, the FNG Starr Award has been described as the “Victoria Cross of Canadian Medicine”. First given in 1936 to Sir Frederick Banting, Dr Charles Best and Dr James Collip, this medal represents the highest award that the association can bestow on one of its members in recognition of outstanding achievement.

Already retired from a 30-year career as a researcher and teacher at the University of Manitoba, Dr Ronald accepted one of the most daunting challenges in medicine. He joined Africa’s first large HIV/AIDS clinic in Kampala, Uganda, in a jump-start program lead by the Infectious Diseases Institute, at Makerere University, on New Year’s Day, 2002, assuming duties to develop with the Ugandan colleagues programs for training, care, research and prevention. The institute offers training programs for health care providers from many African countries, prevention/outreach activities, operational research and up-to-date laboratory services.

In 2000, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and he holds the Service Leadership Award of the Christian Medical Dental Society of Canada. He is also author or co-author of more than 400 publications and has been a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong on several occasions and at the University of Nairobi more than three dozen times.

The 2003 Medal of Honour is being won by Dr Raymond V Rajotte of Edmonton. This medal recognizes personal contributions to advancing medical research, medical education, health care organization and health education of the public; service to the people of Canada in raising the standards of health care delivery in Canada; and service to the profession in the field of medical organization.

Dr Rajotte, professor of surgery and medicine, is the director of the Surgical Medical Research Institute, the islet transplant group, and the JDRF human islet distribution program. He is also a founding member of several international scientific societies dedicated to the transplantation of cells and cell transplantation for type I diabetes. He has served as a scientific officer for several of these international societies.

He has over 270 published papers and is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in the field of islet transplantation who took his basic research from the bench to the standard of care for brittle diabetics.

The Medal of Service is being won by Dr William DS Thomas of Vancouver. This medal is awarded to a person who has made an exceptional and outstanding contribution to the advancement of health care in Canada.

Dr Thomas has been in private practice since 1966. First appointed to a position at his alma mater, the University of British Columbia, he has been, since 1990, a clinical professor in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology.

Dr Jenny Heathcote from Toronto will receive the association’s second annual May Cohen Award for Women Mentors for being a formidable activist on behalf of women in medicine. Colleagues describe Dr Heathcote as a tireless teacher who takes pride in the successes of her students. Former students also cite her strong sense of social justice, most prominently displayed early in the history of HIV and AIDS, when she cared for its first, most marginalized victims – not because their disease fell within her specialty, but because she was compelled to offer non-judgmental care where care was too often lacking.

Drs Ronald, Rajotte, Thomas and Heathcote will receive their awards on August 20, at a special ceremony in the Pantages Theatre in Winnipeg during the Canadian Medical Association’s 136th annual meeting.