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Two members of the Faculty of Medicine receive highest honour

By Sharon Gray | Sept. 19, 2013

Dr. Jane Green and Dr. Proton Rahman of the Faculty of Medicine were inducted as fellows in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) on Sept. 19. Election to fellowship in the CAHS is considered one of the highest honours for individuals in the Canadian health sciences community and carries with it an agreement to serve the academy and the future well-being of the health sciences. 

“Being inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences is like winning a gold medal in science,” said Dr. James Rourke, dean, Faculty of Medicine. “I am so proud of the work that each of our CAHS’s inductees have done that has earned them this significant national recognition.”

Dr. Green, professor of gRahman and Greenenetics, has been at the forefront of genetic research of hereditary cancers and hereditary eye diseases for 35 years. Her studies led to the discovery of novel genes in Newfoundland and Labrador families and a new understanding of pathways to development of cancer and blindness. She works closely with molecular geneticists and genetic counsellors, and families participating in the research have benefited from clinical and genetic screening programs developed and implemented based on the research. In 1993 her research was key to identifying a major colon cancer gene and to the provision of genetic testing. 

Dr. Green pioneered the development of screening programs for earlier and more successful treatment of hereditary tumours. Her work has saved lives and profoundly improved health and quality of life for hundreds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. In 2012 she received the Founders Award for Excellence in Medical Genetics from the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists for her significant lifetime contributions to the college and to the genetics community in Newfoundland, Canada and beyond. In 2008 she received a Knowledge Translation Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which allowed her to visit all 28 hospitals in the province during 2009 to give presentations on the implications of genetics and hereditary diseases to health-care professionals and the public, and to provide in-service teaching to public health nurses.

Dr. Rahman, professor of medicine (rheumatology) and associate dean for clinical research in the Faculty of Medicine, is an international leader on the genetic basis of inflammatory arthritis. His pioneering research has led to the identification of numerous novel genes that contribute to the pathogenesis of psoriatic arthritis and anklyosing spondyltis. In collaboration with an international psoriasis consortium, he has identified over half of all psoriatic arthritis genes reaching genome wide significance. 

Additionally, Dr. Rahman has pioneered the development of the Newfoundland Genealogical Database (NGD) by creatively using information collected for census data. The NGD provides clinicians and researchers with rapid access to a detailed patient pedigree and genealogy linkage with health outcome and pedigree visualization.

Dr. Rahman has published widely in top sub-specialty based genetics and rheumatology journals and his contribution to rheumatology research has been recognized with regional, national and international awards. In 2012 he was named University Research Professor, the most prestigious award Memorial gives for research. He received the President’s Award for Outstanding Research in 2003 and the Nati Biotechnology Leadership Award in 2004 from the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries. In 2003 he was named one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40 for 2003 by the Globe & Mail‘s Report on Business magazine.

Drs. Green and Rahman follow in the footsteps of eight prominent members of the Memorial community who are fellows of the CAHS. These include Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research); Dr. Dale Corbett, Faculty of Medicine; Dr. James Rourke; Dr. Patrick Parfrey, University Research Professor; Dr. John (Sean) Brosnan, University Research Professor; Dr. Ian Bowmer, professor emeritus and fourth dean of medicine; the late Dr. David Hawkins, third dean of the Faculty of Medicine; and Dr. Kevin Keough, former vice-president (research and international relations). Profiles of all CAHS fellows can be seen at www.cahs-acss.ca/.

The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences is one of three academies that comprise the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA). The other two CCA academies are the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. The CAHS has two functions – to conduct assessments on urgent health matters that affect Canadians, and to recognize individuals of outstanding achievement in the health sciences through elections to fellowship. Fellows are elected based on their demonstrated leadership, creativity, distinctive competencies and a commitment to advance academic health science.