Department of Medicine researchers named fellows of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

Sep 20, 2019
With files from Rahul Kalvapalle, U of T News

Professor Antonio Strafella (photo by Johnny Guatto)Professor Antonio Strafella (photo by Johnny Guatto) Three Department of Medicine researchers have been named fellows of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences - one of the most esteemed honours for academics in the field. The Department of Medicine faculty members were among 10 researchers from the University of Toronto named to the academy. The new fellows from U of T and its partner hospitals are at the forefront of tackling a diverse array of issues pertinent to health care and the life sciences.

“The University of Toronto would like to congratulate these 10 faculty members from our health sciences community on this most deserved recognition of their scholarship and research accomplishments,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives.

“Their election to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences is a testament to U of T’s strengths in areas of health sciences that run the gamut from bench to bedside and molecule to population.”

One of three national academies that make up the Council of Canadian Academies, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences leverages the expertise of Canada’s leading health sciences researchers to examine the most pressing and complex health challenges of the day, share assessments and recommend actionable solutions.

Fellows are drawn from an array of disciplines within the health sciences and are elected to the academy in recognition of their research prowess, scientific creativity, leadership and track record of advancing health sciences for the public good.

They are tasked with carrying out independent, evidence-based analysis of health-related topics that affect Canadians.

Among these researchers is Antonio Strafella, a professor in the Division of Neurology. He said he was “extremely honoured” at what he called the “amazing surprise” of having been granted the opportunity to serve the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and Canadian society.

Strafella is a senior scientist at the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH in its research imaging centre.

Much of his work revolves around using neuro-imaging to work towards a cure for Parkinson’s disease – “so taking pictures of the brain using very sophisticated biomarkers to image the progression of the disease and the complications associated with it,” explained Strafella, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Movement Disorders and Neuroimaging.

Strafella said studies on the brains of Parkinson’s patients are commonly conducted post-mortem, and that while there are drugs available to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s, there is no cure for the disease itself.

“Using neuro-imaging, we can conduct these studies in vivo and potentially find changes in biomarkers in the very early stages of the disease,” he said.

Also named fellows of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences is Jocalyn Clark, an assistant professor in General Internal Medicine and Executive Editor at The Lancet, and Lawrence Leiter, a professor in Endocrinology & Metabolism.  

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