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CMA honours 12 during 2013 awards ceremony

The CMA's 2013 awards, presented Aug. 21 during the 146th annual meeting in Calgary, honoured a breadth of achievements that ranged from leading the fight against HIV/AIDS to providing physical activity and support for 200,000 young people.

Dr. Julio Montaner of Vancouver, a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, received the CMA's highest honour, the F.N.G. Starr Award. Thanks to his work in British Columbia, the incidence of AIDS there has declined by more than 80% in the past 20 years. "His research and clinical work have changed how medicine perceives HIV disease," said then CMA President Anna Reid.

Montaner said the award "represents a tremendous show of support by my colleagues for the work we have carried out over the last three decades to stop HIV and AIDS."

The CMA Medal of Honour, its highest award for a non-physician, was presented to Nigel Fisher. It honours his 35-year career with the UN, during which he worked to improve the lives of children in a dozen developing countries. "Where others see despair, Mr. Fisher hears a call for action," said Reid, pointing to his appointment to lead the UN's needs-assessment team following Haiti's earthquake in 2010.

The CMA Medal of Service, which honours "an outstanding contribution" to the advancement of health care in Canada, was awarded to Dr. Léo-Paul Landry of Boucherville, Que. Reid said that Landry, a former CMA secretary general, "breathed new life into this organization and transformed it into a proud, influential and truly national voice for Canadian physicians." Landry said "every day at the CMA brought new challenges and new opportunities to learn."

The CMA Dr. William Marsden Award was presented to two recipients - Dr. David McKnight of Toronto and Dr. Ian Mitchell of Calgary - for contributions to medical ethics.

McKnight, an associate dean at the University of Toronto, introduced the Stethoscope Ceremony during the orientation of new medical students there. "I have tried to emphasize that there is no day and almost no decision in patient care that does not involve ethics," he said.

Mitchell, a former director of bioethics at the University of Calgary, said "it is a privilege to... encourage aspiring physicians to consider all aspects of care."

Dr. Wendy Levinson of Toronto received the CMA May Cohen Award for Women Mentors. Reid said Levinson, the Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and chair at the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, has set an "outstanding" example for young physicians. "The personal gratification that I get from seeing my mentees help change the world of medicine is truly an unbelievable joy," Levinson said.

The 2013 Sir Charles Tupper Award for Political Action was presented to Dr. Colin Saldanha of Mississauga, Ont., for "his leadership in advocating for much needed improvements to our country's health care system." Saldanha says all physicians "should be advocates for their patients."

Dr. Derek Fewer of Winnipeg received the CMA's Physician Misericordia Award to honour his work in promoting physician health and well-being. "He has a remarkable record of service to his fellow physicians," Reid said of Fewer, who co-founded the Doctors Manitoba Physicians at Risk Program. "This [work] has truly been the highlight of my medical years," Fewer said.

The CMA Award for Excellence in Health Promotion went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, which provide activities for youth in about 650 communities. "They have had a tremendously positive impact on the health of young Canadians," said Reid.

The CMA also honoured three "young leaders" for outstanding contributions.

Dr. Rithesh Ram, who graduated from the University of Calgary medical school in May with a joint MD-PhD, was recognized as an outstanding leader in the student category. He has been active on the CMA's Political Action Committee and Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

In the resident category, Dr. Paul Singh Dhillon of Regina, who completed his family medicine residency in Saskatchewan in May, was honoured. Proceeds from his second novel - and collaboration from Rotary International - raised more than $30,000 for a health project in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Kathryn Andrusky of Edmonton was recognized for leadership in the early career physician category. Now a clinical lecturer and preceptor for the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta, she has been politically active in medical issues since her undergraduate years, and is a past president of the Professional Association of Residents of Alberta.

Details about all recipients are available on our website.

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