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Top Canadian achievements saluted in health research awards


Ottawa, ON – The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) are honouring eight outstanding Canadian individuals and teams with the first ever CIHR-CMAJ Top Canadian Achievements in Health Research Awards, which recognize and celebrate Canadian health research and innovation excellence.

The winners were selected by a peer-review panel of Canadian and international experts, who looked for the discoveries and innovations that had the biggest impact on the health of people in this country and around the world.

The winners are:
– Drs Paul Armstrong, Robert Welsh and Padmaja Kaul, of the University of Alberta, who trained ambulance crews to liaise with doctors and begin treatment of heart attack victims about one hour earlier on average, dramatically improving chances of a full recovery.

– Dr Adolfo de Bold, of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, for the discovery of hormone secretion by the human heart. This knowledge now allows physicians to control water and salt levels in the body, reducing hypertension and helping the heart recover after heart attacks.

– Drs Geoffrey Fong, Mary Thompson and David Hammond, of the University of Waterloo, for their work with the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project in assessing the effectiveness of various programs to reduce smoking.

-Dr Bob Litchfield, of the University of Western Ontario, for a ground-breaking study of patients with arthritic knees, proving that knee surgery provided no extra value over physiotherapy and patient education.

-Dr Michel LeMay, of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, who developed a new way to handle heart attacks that empowers paramedics to read electrocardiograms and identifies patients with blocked heart arteries who need to be fast-tracked for angioplasty surgery -reducing mortality by 50%.

-Dr Nizar Mahomed, of the University Health Network in Toronto, who led a team involving some 35 hospitals that introduced new procedures for hip and knee surgery. These procedures reduced wait times, cut rehabilitation stays and dramatically improved patient outcomes.

-Dr Stephen Moses, of the University of Manitoba, who demonstrated the effectiveness of male circumcision in reducing the transmission of HIV in Africa.

-Dr Fred Possmayer, of the University of Western Ontario, who developed a technique to purify and sterilize lung surfactant – a substance that allows lungs to expand and breathe – so it could be used in premature babies to greatly improve their chances of survival.

“It’s no surprise to us at CIHR that Canadian health researchers perform so well and have made such a difference in the day-to-day health and wellbeing of Canadians and others worldwide,” said Dr Alain Beaudet, president of CIHR. “It’s a great pleasure for me to see CIHR partner with the CMAJ in honouring these award winners and their achievements.”

“It’s worth noting that all the winners of this new award have placed a strong emphasis on translating their research discoveries and knowledge into innovations that have resulted in practical ways to improve health outcomes,” said Dr Ian Graham, vice president, knowledge translation at CIHR. “That’s a crucial test for health research; how can it make a difference in people’s lives.”