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Cy Frank

The university community is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Cy Frank (CM) on March 5, 2015.

Frank was a faculty member at the University of Calgary for more than 30 years while achieving national and international stature as a clinician scientist. He was a highly respected, admired and valued mentor, scientist, teacher, surgeon, administrator and advocate.

He joined the Cumming School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery in 1984 as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 1992, jointly appointed to the Faculty of Kinesiology. He served as Division Chief in Orthopaedics from 1997 through 2007 and was the McCaig Professor in Joint Injury and Arthritis Research.

Frank was a builder of local, provincial and international research infrastructure.

“Cy was a colleague, friend and mentor to me and many of us at the Cumming School for so many years,” says Dr. Jon Meddings, dean, Cumming School of Medicine. “Cy was an incredible leader – he meant a lot to his students, his colleagues, his patients; all who knew Cy were affected by his warmth and his ability to bring people together.”

In 1989, Frank agreed to become the founding clinical and research director of Roger Jackson’s Sport Medicine Centre in the Faculty of Kinesiology, bringing instant credibility to the new clinic, and helping to build the centre’s clinical research focus. Frank held that post until 2004, and continued to see patients at the centre until the time of his passing. Frank’s research interests in kinesiology are reflected by the fact that he was also a co-director of the Human Performance Lab, a position that he had held for many years.

He was also a driving force behind the creation of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health. The multi-faculty (medicine, engineering, kinesiology, and science) and multi-disciplinary institute has become internationally recognized for its comprehensive approach to the treatment of joint and bone disorders and serves as a training ground for future clinician scientists and researchers.

He was most recently appointed president and chief executive officer of Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions on April 1, 2013.

Through the application of practical solutions to clinical problems, Frank was highly regarded as an expert in a comprehensive approach to orthopaedic research and treatment. He developed, with his collaborators, a world-class research program initially focused on the mechanisms of knee ligament healing, and his work advanced the understanding of why and how ligaments fail. More recently, the work has focused the development of osteoarthritis and the possible causes for the initiation and progression of the disease after a joint injury.

During his term as president of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association, he increased the national and international profile for orthopaedic surgery in Calgary and across Alberta; he assembled and led an osteoarthritis "dream team" provincially, shining the light on the University of Calgary as a leading osteoarthritis research and treatment centre, and attracting additional research talent and funding dollars to the university to further explore the disease.

He led a multi-partnered Canadian Academy of Health Sciences national task force to address the return on investment issue for Canada’s investment in research, and he was the first scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute for Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis.

Frank was highly acclaimed and honoured throughout his career. He received the first Killam Interdisciplinary Research Prize in 2010, and the Killam Research Leader Award in 2012 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to research and his leadership role internationally. Having received the distinguished alumni award in 2002, he was awarded the Order of the University of Calgary in 2013 for his history of distinguished service to the university. In July of last year, Frank was honoured with an Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to advancing orthopedic health care services in Alberta, and for his scientific contributions to bone and joint repair research.

A renowned orthopedic surgeon, a champion for patient care, and a true leader in every sense of the word, Dr. Cy Frank dedicated his career to improving health outcomes for Albertans living with orthopedic injuries and illness.

His numerous contributions to medicine as a surgeon, teacher, researcher and advocate have had a profound impact on the people of Alberta. He will be deeply missed and well-remembered by all who knew him.

Update: Public Memorial Service to be held Saturday, March 21 at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium beginning at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dr. Cy Frank can be made to support the Cy Frank Memorial Fund in Bone and Joint Health at the University of Calgary. Please send cheques (payable to the University of Calgary with a memo indicating Dr. Cy Frank Memorial Fund in Bone and Joint Health) to the Cumming School of Medicine Fund Development Office, University of Calgary at 3330 Hospital Dr. NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 4N1 or make your donation online.