University of Calgary

At the top of their fields

U of C medical researchers honoured

By Robyn Hauck

From studying advanced gene therapy to building experimental models of heart disease, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine researchers were recently recognized for their outstanding contribution to medical research over the last two decades.

The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) honoured 15 distinguished researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta this month. They are among 600 researchers and researchers-in-training across the province.

“AHFMR has supported health research throughout Alberta for more than 25 years. That long-term commitment is being realized in the 15 extraordinary individuals being recognized,” says Dr. Kevin Keough, president and CEO of AHFMR.

Seven members of U of C’s Faculty of Medicine received the AHFMR long-service honour, including 25-year researcher Dr. Quentin Pittman, and 20-year researchers Dr. Robert French, Dr. May Ho, Dr. Christopher Mody and Dr. Paul Schnetkamp.

These physicians investigate problems in the areas of brain function, malaria, heart, cancer, immune research, gene therapy and degenerative retinal disease.

Dr. Cyril Frank, one of this year’s recognized researchers, says AHFMR’s support is invaluable. “Through their involvement, we have come to understand the relationship between ligament instability and the development of osteoarthritis, and we can now try to prevent instability through surgical or biological repair of the ligaments.” 

One of the medical scientists recognized was 20-year researcher Dr. Anne Gillis, a world leader in implantable device therapy for the treatment of heart rhythm disorders.
“I was originally attracted to Alberta because of the AHFMR and its commitment to research in all areas of medicine,” says Gillis.

“Through the support of the AHFMR, I began as a clinical investigator and now, as a researcher, have helped establish a new Atrial Fibrillation Clinic which dramatically reduces wait times for patients and creates efficiency in managing and assessing heart patients.”
The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research is committed to funding health research based on international standards of excellence and carried out by established investigators and researchers-in-training.

It has funded 8,500 researchers in 26 years and, in total, committed more than $400 million to University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine researchers.