Sept. 28, 2020

Eight University of Calgary researchers inducted into prestigious Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

Faculty recognized for their vision, innovation and sustained excellence

The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) has recognized eight accomplished UCalgary faculty members for their dedication to health sciences. This is the largest group of successful nominees that the university has had in a single year. Dr. Gregory Cairncross, MD; Dr. Benedikt Hallgrimsson, PhD; Dr. David Hodgins, PhD; Dr. Deborah Marshall, PhD; Dr. Derek M. McKay, PhD; Dr. Luanne Metz, MD; Dr. Scott B. Patten, MD, PhD; and Dr. Tom Stelfox, MD, PhD, were inducted into the academy this month.

CAHS fellows advise the public and private sectors on complex health challenges, providing strategic and tangible solutions to help inform public policy. They do so through interdisciplinary and evidence-based assessments.

“These eight scholars have demonstrated tremendous commitment to their research throughout their careers, and made significant contributions to their fields of study,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research). “As academic leaders, and now Fellows in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, they will continue to shape how we address the world’s most pressing health concerns.”

Gregory Cairncross

  • Professor, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, director, Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute, and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM).

Cairncross is best known for his contributions to neuro-oncology. He led the international clinical trial which discovered that oligodendroglioma, a type of brain cancer, is sensitive to chemotherapy. He also co-discovered with Dr. David Louis, MD, a molecular marker that is used worldwide to diagnose oligodendrogliomas and guide the treatment of patients with this disease. He is a pioneer and champion of precision medicine in the brain cancer field, striving to improve patient care through genomic analysis of cancer.

Benedikt Hallgrimsson

  • Professor and head, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, scientific director – basic science, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) and a member of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health at the CSM.  

Hallgrimsson is an international leader in the study of birth defects and the developmental genetics of anatomical variation. His groundbreaking research combines developmental genetics and bioinformatics with 3D imaging and morphometrics — the quantitative analysis of form. His study of phenotypic variation is helping us to better understand embryonic development and the evolution of complex organisms.

David Hodgins

  • Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, and a member of HBI and the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education at the CSM.

Hodgins is a world-renowned scientist in the field of addiction studies. His creative work has profoundly changed the way in which scholars, practitioners and policy-makers understand both the cause of disordered gambling, its comorbidity with other disorders and its natural course, treatment and recovery. Through creativity and outstanding leadership, Hodgins has advanced the science and practice of clinical psychology in gambling and other addictions. His brief treatment and relapse prevention interventions have influenced mental health services around the globe. A leader of several collaborative international initiatives, Hodgins has had a profound impact on the treatment of gambling disorders.

Deborah Marshall

  • Professor, departments of Community Health Sciences and Medicine, and a member of the McCaig Institute, the O’Brien Institute for Public Health (OIPH) and ACHRI at the CSM.

Marshall is a champion for health technology assessment — a systematic, rigorous approach to evidence-informed policy development. Her research includes simulation modelling at the individual patient level, considering care pathways, patient preferences and resources required to deliver health services in the context of precision health. She has advanced the methods beyond traditional methodologies by engaging patients as partners in research and eliciting preferences to ensure that patient and provider voices are included, resulting in evidence-informed, patient-centred health-are decisions.

Derek McKay

  • Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and director, Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, at the CSM.

McKay is highly regarded for his work on unraveling communication pathways in the gut that control normal physiology and disease, both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. His research reveals how the interaction between host, bacteria and parasites may be translated to new treatments for infectious and inflammatory diseases of the gut. McKay is the past chair of UCalgary’s Gastrointestinal Research Group and the former president of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology. He is also the past chair and a current member of the executive for UCalgary’s highly successful Host-Parasite Interactions trainee program. McKay’s contributions to health science research, commitment to mentoring and leadership have been recognized with numerous national and international awards.

Luanne Metz

  • Professor, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, and a member of HBI, the Snyder Institute and OIPH at the CSM.

Metz is a neurologist, researcher and leader. She has spearheaded the internationally recognized Calgary Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Clinic with innovative research, treatment and care, which has raised the standards of medical care for MS patients in Calgary and beyond. Metz has pioneered many clinical activities, including her lead role on a successful phase III trial of minocycline in early MS. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and has provided the MS field worldwide with many novel insights and advances in treating the disorder.

Scott B. Patten

  • Professor, departments of Community Health Sciences and Psychiatry, and a member of ACHRI, OIPH, HBI and the Mathison Centre at the CSM.

Patten is a psychiatrist and epidemiologist. His research applies population-based approaches to questions related to mental health, including the prevalence of mental disorders, associated risk and prognostic factors, and patterns of mortality. Patten is a contributor to multiple national and international studies related to mood disorder epidemiology and interventions to reduce the stigma that is associated with mental disorders and has been ranked in the top one per cent of the most highly cited researchers worldwide.  

Tom Stelfox

  • Head, Department of Critical Care Medicine, professor, departments of Critical Care Medicine, Medicine and Community Health Sciences, and a member of OIPH at the CSM.

Stelfox is an internationally recognized clinician-scientist. He is a leading expert in the use of applied health services research methods, leading provincial, national and international efforts to build applied research capacity, create new health service delivery knowledge and translate that knowledge into better patient care. Stelfox has trained, mentored and coached scientists and clinicians towards meaningful and impactful careers in academia, health care, industry and government.

  • Photo at top: Top row, from left: Gregory Cairncross, Benedikt Hallgrimsson, David Hodgins, Deborah Marshall. Bottom row, from left: Derek M. McKay, Luanne Metz, Scott B. Patten, Tom Stelfox.