Spring 2015 (Volume 25, Number 1)
Awards, Appointments, Accolades
Recognition as a Master is one of the highest honours that the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) bestows on its distinguished members. In November 2014, at the ACR Meeting in Boston, Professor Jean-Pierre Pelletier, MD, was bestowed this honour in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of rheumatology.
Dr. Pelletier completed his medical degree at the Université de Montréal (UdM) with rheumatology training at both UdM and McGill University, followed by a research fellowship at the University of Miami. In 1981, he co-founded, with Professor Johanne Martel-Pelletier, the Osteoarthritis Research Unit at the UdM Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), which has since grown to become one of the most highly renowned and respected facilities of its kind. He has led UdM’s Arthritis Center since 1985. In 1997, he was appointed Head of the Division of Rheumatology of the UdM Hospital Centre (CHUM) and in 2000, co-titular Head of the Chair in Osteoarthritis at UdM.
Dr. Pelletier is a well-known expert in the field of osteoarthritis for his work in both basic and clinical research. His principal research interest lies in understanding the mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis in humans and preclinical models, as well as in investigating and developing new therapeutic strategies to counteract the disease through basic, preclinical and clinical studies. He also developed, with his team, new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems for the quantification of knee and hip structural alterations. His work in the field of arthritis research has led to a large number of landmark studies and in turn to major breakthroughs and discoveries with regard to the pathophysiology and new avenues of treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.
He has sat on many committees, sub-committees, and editorial boards. He is a world-renowned speaker, and has also chaired many research and scientific committees, symposia, and conferences. He has been an active member of various professional societies. He was instrumental in the formation of the Global Arthritis Research Network (GARN) and one of the founders of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI), for which he served as President. He also served for eight years as President of the Canadian Laurentian Conference of Rheumatology.
Dr. Pelletier is the winner of six major international and five national awards and numerous prizes, including the prestigious King Faisal International Prize for Medicine in 2010 honouring his outstanding accomplishments in osteoarthritis research. The success of his work is also illustrated by the impressive number of publications (over 435) in high-ranking, world-renowned, peer-reviewed journals, abstracts (more than 750) and guest speaker appearances (over 300) worldwide.
Dr. Jessica Widdifield, of the McGill University Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupation Health, has recently been awarded a Banting Fellowship, Canada’s most notable post-doctoral award.
Her postdoctoral research focuses on enhancing the validity of using Canadian and international electronic health databases for research and surveillance in rheumatology; the research conducts comparative analyses across settings to characterize patient populations, the burden of morbidity, and premature mortality.
This prestigious Fellowship is named in memory of Sir Frederick Banting, the Canadian physician, researcher, Nobel laureate and war hero who, with his assistant Dr. Charles Best, is credited with the discovery of insulin. Only 23 fellowships across all health disciplines are awarded each year through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
This award recognizes leaders in their field and helps attract and retain top talent in Canada.
Dr. Marie Westby was awarded the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP) Distinguished Clinician Award at the 2014 American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/ARHP Scientific Meeting in Boston, MA on November 15th. This award recognizes an ARHP member who demonstrates outstanding clinical expertise in arthritis and contributes to advancing the art and science of rheumatology. Dr. Westby has served on several ARHP committees and task forces over the past 20 years. Currently, she is the only Canadian representative on the ARHP Practice Committee as well as a joint initiative through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP)/Arthritis Foundation to develop online resources identifying appropriate physical activity opportunities for people with arthritis. In addition to her role as the Physical Therapy Teaching Supervisor in the Mary Pack Arthritis Program in BC, she is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public Health, University of Alberta/Arthritis Research Canada (ARC) and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia.