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CMA announces 2015 award winners

The physician who has done much to raise awareness of hypertension in Canada and the need to reduce sodium intake, an internationally renowned infectious disease expert, and the former head of the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) are among the individuals and organizations being recognized by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) this year.

At the association’s annual general council meeting in Halifax in August one organization and 13 individuals will be celebrated as recipients of a CMA award. This year’s recipient of the CMA’s highest honour for physicians – the Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr Award – will be Dr. Norman Campbell. Campbell’s role in promoting best practices in the prevention and treatment of hypertension has been internationally recognized, as has his work in making the reduction of dietary sodium a priority. Campbell is currently co-chair of the Pan American Health Organization—World Health Organization expert group on dietary salt reduction.

The May Cohen Award for Women Mentors will be presented to Dr. Allison McGeer who has been director of the division of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, for the past 25 years and was a leader in the fight against the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Toronto. McGeer is recognized for promoting student learning and mentorship as well as facilitating relationships and helping others build their professional networks.

Dr. John Gray was appointed executive director and CEO of the Canadian Medical Protective Association in 2000, and served in that capacity until his retirement in November 2013. A family physician by training, Gray led the CMPA through its transformation from being a relatively small organization to a leading-edge national medical association. For this work, Gray has been named recipient of the CMA Medal of Service for 2015.

Camille Dow Baker will be awarded the Medal of Honour for her role in helping found the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), a non-governmental organization based in Calgary. CAWST has helped provide better water and sanitation to nearly 10 million people in 68 countries since its creation in 2001. The Medal of Honour is the highest award the association can give to a non-physician.

An acknowledged leader in physician health in Canada, Dr. Michael Kaufmann will be recognized this year with the Physician Misericordia Award. Kaufmann is founding director of the Physician Health Program of the Ontario Medical Association. The award celebrates outstanding contribution by a CMA member to enhance the overall health and well-being of physician colleagues on both personal and professional levels.

For the first time this year, a medical trainee will receive the Sir Charles Tupper Award for Political Action. Dr. Emily Reynen was founder and president of a student advocacy group at McGill University, Montreal, where she helped establish the first provincial Lobby Day for the four medical faculties in Quebec.

The Award for Excellence in Health Promotion is being presented to the Norlien Foundation for its work in establishing the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative. This initiative, established in 2007, has helped develop and support a number of activities in early childhood development, mental health and addiction aimed at promoting evidence-based changes in policy and practice to help children and families.

Three outstanding individuals will be recognized with the Awards for Young Leaders. Soniya Sharma, the student winner, was elected chair of the Ontario Medical Students Association in 2014 and has led constitutional reform for the organization, also developing an innovative pilot program to teach medical students about governance while being mentored by physician leaders.

Dr. Amol Verma is the resident winner of the award for his work as co-principal investigator of the General Medicine Inpatient (Gemini) registry being piloted at six Toronto hospitals, as well as for developing weekly podcasts to summarize recent studies in internal medicine that are heard by thousands in more than 50 countries.

The Early Career recipient is Dr. Alika Lafontaine who is committed to raising public awareness of First Nations and aboriginal concerns. Lafontaine is currently vice-president of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada, a member of the Alberta Medical Association representative forum and a member of the Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada indigenous health advisory committee.

The Dr. William Marsden Award in Medical Ethics will be awarded to Dr. Paul Byrne, currently interim director of the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre and clinical professor at the University of Alberta. Trained as a neonatologist, Byrne has shown leadership in recognizing the challenges facing parents in making difficult but informed decisions about their children’s care.

Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Charlebois and Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Stiegelmar are recipients this year of the John McCrae Memorial Medal. This is the second year the medal has been awarded to current or former clinical health services personnel of the Canadian Forces. As the only internal medicine and critical care physician at the Kandahar Airfield multinational medical unit, Lt.-Col. Charlebois provided 24/7 care to wounded NATO soldiers, enemy combatants and civilians. Lt.-Col. Stiegelmar is an exceptional orthopedic surgeon known for his diligent care and compassion for Forces members who have been injured in combat.

Information on the awards and more details about the recipients is available here.

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