Innovative Founder of McMaster Medical School and MaRS Discovery District Awarded Friesen International Prize in Health Research



    MONTREAL, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - Dr. John R. Evans, the creative genius behind
the landmark McMaster University Medical School and Toronto's MaRS Discovery
District, was awarded the 2007 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health
Research today in recognition of his exceptional leadership, vision and
innovation.
    The annual Friesen International Prize recognizes a visionary and
groundbreaking medical scientist who has impacted significantly the way the
health sector functions worldwide. The award is given by the Friends of the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Academy of Health
Sciences.
    Dr. Evans' contributions began with his revolutionary development of the
McMaster Medical School model in the early 70s where he became founding Dean
at the young age of 35.
    The McMaster Medical School was considered radical in its day, and often
laughed at, by more traditional programs until finally the model caught the
attention of Harvard University, which changed its medical school curriculum
to match the innovative McMaster model.
    Dr. Evans now speaks about new initiatives in support of Research, but
cautioned about the need to be open and accountable to the public that pays
for it. He is futuristic in pointing out the need to develop internationally
respected teams to be recognized on a global landscape. This can only be
achieved by attracting and developing outstanding talent with predictable
support. This can happen only by fostering great academic institutions with a
strong culture of research and a deep commitment to excellence. Support for
this cannot be taken for granted, as governments look for greater
accountability in relation to national priorities, economic and social return
on investment and innovation in the research process. He states that it is
incumbent upon us to show that research is a sound investment of tax dollars.
    Dr. Evans brought his spirit of collaboration to his establishment of the
MaRS Discovery District (MaRS DD) in the heart of Toronto's hospitals and
research institutes. MaRS is a not-for-profit corporation founded by leaders
from business and the public sector to improve the commercialization of
Canada's discoveries in science and technology. The centre opened in 2005, and
while it is still early to measure its success, the innovation is helping to
ensure that Canadians receive the full economic benefits of their investment
in scientific technology research and development.
    "MaRS is in place to help Canadian discoveries make a positive difference
to the health and quality of life for Canadians and others throughout the
world," Dr. Evans explained. "It is important that we strengthen Canada's
ability to commercialize innovation arising from its substantial investment in
academic research to benefit the health and economic future of Canadians."
    The MaRS project spans two acres and is home to scientists, venture
finance and established businesses as well as legal and management
specialists. There are 27 start up companies in the MaRS "Incubator" and over
200 companies have benefited from advice from business development mentors.
    Dr. Aubie Angel, President of the Friends of the Canadian Institutes of
Health Research said, "Dr. John Evans is a remarkable visionary in Health
Research. From the founding of the McMaster Medical School to his presidency
at the University of Toronto and his service with international health
initiatives, founding chair of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and now
his leadership in the MaRS project, Dr. Evans has been the outstanding
Canadian medical leader of his generation. We are proud, along with our
colleagues in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, to honour Dr. Evans
with the 2007 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research."
    Dr. Evans delivered a keynote address at a Public Forum in Montreal today
following his acceptance of the award. His talk was entitled:

    
        "The Infinite Horizon of Health Research: Is Canada visible?"
    

    He is the second recipient of the Friesen prize, with Dr. Joe Martin,
Dean of the Harvard Medical School receiving the inaugural award in September
2006.
    Dr. Evans said in accepting his award. "The most important point in all
my career has been to associate myself with exceptional individuals who were
team players. It's been great fun."





For further information:

For further information: Kathryn Hendrick, (416) 277-6281; Marilyn
Williams, (204) 940-8593, Cell: (204) 770-6912; Cristina S. Castellvi, (416)
506-1597

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FRIENDS OF CANADIAN INSTITUTES OF HEALTH RESEARCH

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