Three University of Saskatchewan health scientists receive national honour

Three University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researchers who are investigating physical activity, sexually transmitted infections and remote presence robots in health care have been elected as fellows in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS).

Kinesiologist Lawrence (Larry) Brawley, microbiologist Jo-Anne Dillon and neurosurgeon Dr. Ivar Mendez were among 50 health-science experts from across Canada who were elected for their leadership, innovation and commitment to their fields.

"These three researchers are shining examples of the extraordinary, diverse and internationally recognized expertise that exists in the health sciences at the University of Saskatchewan," said Karen Chad, vice-president research at the U of S. "Larry, Ivar and Jo-Anne have all been tremendous leaders and had significant scholarly impact within their respective fields on an international scale. Election into this prestigious national society is a well-deserved honour."

Brawley has held a Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention since 2005. His research examines why some people successfully adopt physical activity as a healthy lifestyle change, while others struggle. Understanding the psychology behind physical activity is essential to helping people sustain the activity needed to promote health and prevent diseases.

His research has informed the Canadian government's physical activity guidelines, as well as the U.S. Surgeon-General's report. He has also served widely in numerous health-related leadership roles, including a three-year term (2005-2008) as chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute.

Dillon earned an international reputation for her many contributions to research on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). She has worked extensively with the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, leading public-health initiatives in countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to improve methods and policies for diagnosing and treating STDs.

She has also been a pioneer and role model for women in academia. She was the first female president of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists, the first female chair of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Ottawa, and the first female Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the U of S. She was also the founding director of several important scientific entities, including the National Laboratory for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Health Canada's Laboratory Centre for Disease Control.

Mendez is the unified head of surgery at the U of S and Saskatoon Health Region, and has pioneered cell restoration procedures for brain repair in Parkinson's disease. He is also a global leader in the use of remote presence robots for health care. Mendez has led the only clinical neural transplantation program in Canada—one of only five such programs globally—and performed the first long-distance telemonitoring neurosurgery in the world.

In addition to his outstanding work as a surgeon and scholar, Mendez is a passionate humanitarian who has established neurosurgical units in various developing countries. He has developed his own charitable organization, which has improved the welfare of children in the Bolivian Andes. He has received many awards for his scholarly and charitable work, including several honorary degrees, the Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian Award (2010), and was named one of the 10 most influential Hispanics living in Canada by the Hispanics Business Association (2009).

The induction will take place at the academy's annual general meeting in Ottawa on Sept. 18.


For more information, contact:

Jennifer Thoma

Media Relations Specialist

University of Saskatchewan Marketing and Communications Team

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