Oakville-based medical hero inducted into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

LONDON, ON, April 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Dr. Ronald Worton, Oakville-based world renowned researcher and discoverer of the gene for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, was recognized as a Canadian medical hero with induction into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame at a gathering of more than 575 Canadian health care and business leaders in Kingston, Ontario.

Annually The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame elevates a select few of our country's most brilliant health care professionals to laureate status. Laureates are those who have pushed the boundaries of discovery and innovation beyond the realm of possibility to make the world a better place.

One of six inductees, Dr. Ronald Worton joined the ranks of 101 Laureates before him in receiving this prestigious national honour. Nominated for his passion, innovation and visionary leadership that has improved health worldwide, Dr. Ronald Worton was selected for this honour by a selection panel comprising national health leaders and chaired by Dr. Alain Beaudet of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Honorary Co-Chairs Hon. Hugh Segal and Daniel Woolf, Principal & Vice Chancellor of Queen's University celebrated along with 2014 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Induction Co-Chairs Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean – Faculty of Health Sciences and Dr. Tom Harris, Vice-Principal Advancement, Queen's University.

Described as a "role model of one who has achieved success without either aggression or self-promotion" and "who brings to every interaction kindness, selflessness, consideration and empathy", Dr. Worton stands out as both a scholar and a gentleman.  Through a novel and ground breaking approach at a time when disease-gene discovery was in its infancy, Dr. Worton and his team identified the dystrophin gene which is mutated in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  This was the first gene to be identified by "positional cloning" without prior knowledge of the altered protein and provided proof-of-principle for the human genome project.  His work enabled definitive diagnosis and prognosis, a clear path to potential therapy and prevention through genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis, and was pivotal in enabling identification of other genes responsible for other forms of muscular dystrophy.

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Dr. Worton earned his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees, both in physics, from the University of Manitoba in 1964 and 1965. He then moved to the University of Toronto where he obtained his PhD in Medical Biophysics in 1969 under the guidance of Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch.  He developed his interest in genetics during his postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University and then joined the Department of Genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto as Director of the Cytogenetics Laboratory in 1971. 

In 1985 he began a ten year term as Geneticist-in-Chief at the hospital, during which time his Genetics Department led the world with the discovery of genes responsible for muscular dystrophy (Worton and Ray), cystic fibrosis (Tsui), Wilson's disease (Cox), Tay-Sachs disease (Gravel) and Fanconi anemia (Buchwald). 

In 1996 Dr. Worton moved to Ottawa where he led the development of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute by bringing together a number of smaller institutes under one administrative structure, coupled with extensive recruitment of basic scientists and clinical investigators.  Under his tenure the Institute grew to be one of the top health research institutes in Canada and remains so today.

Dr. Worton's national and international leadership roles include four years on the Board of the international Human Genome Organization (HUGO), 12 years as Associate Director of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network, six years as Head of the Canadian Genome Analysis and Technology Program and four years as Founding Scientific Director of Canada's Stem Cell Network.  His honors and awards include a Gairdner Foundation International Award, election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Available Resources

  1. The Dr. Worton's full bio and high resolution photo available upon request.
  2. Laureate bios and information about The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame available anytime at www.cdnmedhall.org.

About The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
Established in 1994 and located in London, Ontario, The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is the only national Hall of Fame in the world dedicated to celebrating medical heroes. By creating an enduring tribute to those men and women who through discovery and innovation have contributed to better health in Canada and the world, The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame inspires the pursuit of careers in the health sciences fostering future innovators and leaders.

SOURCE: The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

For further information: Sharon Lomas, Communications and Media Relations, 519.319.0908 / slomas@cdnmedhall.org

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