OTTAWA, Aug. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Dr. Paul Walfish from Toronto (Ontario),
will receive the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) 2007 Medal of Service for
advancing the art and science of treating thyroid diseases worldwide and
raising the standards of medical practice in Canada.
The CMA Medal of Service is awarded to a person who has made an
exceptional and outstanding contribution to the advancement of health care in
"It is an honour and a privilege to be recognized by the Canadian Medical
Association. Certainly the most important recognition that you can ever
receive for contributions to health care is from your peers," said
Dr. Walfish. "This award is very rewarding because it symbolizes the
achievement of my career goals in the practice of medicine which I had desired
when beginning my postgraduate training and pursuing my subsequent
Born and educated in Toronto, Dr. Walfish studied medicine at University
of Toronto and completed his specialty training in Internal Medicine in 1963.
He was awarded a McLaughlin Foundation Fellowship and spent a year at Harvard
Medical School furthering his clinical studies in endocrinology. He then
joined U of T's Department of Medicine as a clinical teacher and Medical
Research Council of Canada Scholar.
His early research focused on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and the
establishment of a methodology for the measurement of lipoproteins, insulin,
cortisol, growth hormone and thyroid hormones. This work was the foundation
for the application of new radioimmunoassay methodology to detect neonatal
hypothyroidism by measuring thyroid hormones from cord or heel blood. Because
at-risk infants could be treated before they showed any clinical signs of the
disease, the extensive brain damage typically associated with hypothyroidism
could be prevented.
Dr. Walfish's findings and advocacy encouraged the Ontario government to
test all infants for congenital hypothyroidism, and today newborn thyroid
screening programs are in place throughout much of the world. He also
demonstrated and defended the advantages of TSH over T4 testing that pioneered
a change in medical practice for detecting hypothyroidism in newborn infants.
In the early 1970s, collaborating with Mount Sinai Hospital's departments
of radiological sciences and pathology, Dr. Walfish focused attention on the
systematic investigation of thyroid nodules using scintiscanning, ultrasound
and fine needle biopsy. This work ultimately changed the investigation and
treatment of thyroid nodules in North America. Later his laboratory documented
and investigated the pathogenesis of post-partum thyroiditis and established
its underlying autoimmune etiology, leading to new interventions for this
treatable disorder. His current research ranges from cutting-edge basic
science discoveries on thyroid hormone action to important clinical advances
in thyroid diseases and resistance to thyroid hormone syndromes.
Dr. Walfish was appointed as Professor Emeritus of the University of
Toronto departments of medicine, pediatrics and otolaryngology in 2002, and
the following year, Emeritus Member of the Institute of Medical Sciences,
School of Postgraduate Studies. However, he continues to be actively engaged
in basic science research programs at Mount Sinai Hospital, where his work
focuses on using yeast and human cell systems to understand the molecular
basis of thyroid hormone action and cancer.
As a clinician, he also continues to develop new strategies for the
post-surgical management of thyroid cancer patients. In presentations at the
American Thyroid Association in 2004 and the 13th International Thyroid
Congress in 2005, he promoted an innovative strategy to predict the risk for
residual or recurrent thyroid cancer that will not only simplify clinical
management, but also avoid unnecessary and costly intensive investigation and
treatment of low risk patients.
"This award is also very gratifying since it brings public awareness to
the importance of detecting and treating thyroid diseases as a very common
clinical problem that can be successfully improved by our health care system
for the benefit of our Canadian citizens," said Dr. Walfish. "This justifies
continuing support for ongoing research and treatment of such problems."
His accomplishments have been publicly recognized for more than
2 decades. Among others honours, he was named Fellow of the Endocrine Section
by the Royal Society of Medicine, England, appointed to the Order of Canada,
recipient of the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation Medal. He
received the first Council Award from the College of Physicians and Surgeons
of Ontario, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Jonas Salk
Award of the Ontario March of Dimes. In 2004, he became the first Canadian to
receive the Paul Starr Award from the American Thyroid Association (ATA) for
outstanding contributions in clinical thyroidology. The ATA has also selected
Dr. Walfish as their next recipient of the 2007 Sidney H. Ingbar Distinguished
Lectureship Award for innovative contributions to thyroid-related research
during his outstanding academic career.
Dr. Paul Walfish is the 37th recipient of the CMA's Medal of Service. He
will receive this award on Aug. 22 at a special ceremony at the Westin
Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver, BC during the 140th annual meeting of the CMA.
(Visit the CMA website at cma.ca for full biographical notes on Dr. Paul
For further information:
For further information: Lucie Boileau, Manager, Media Relations, (613)
731-8610, 1-800-663-7336 ext. 1266, Mobile: (613) 447-0866