Dr. John Dossetor has a highly respected national and international profile in medicine and health care ethics. Dr. Dossetor has made many significant contributions as a pioneer in Nephrology and his involvement in early kidney transplantation. Amongst Dr. Dossetor’s major accomplishments was performing the first identical twin kidney transplant in the Commonwealth. Early in his medical career Dr. Dossetor recognized the need for health ethics.
In 1985, Dr. Dossetor, then Director of the Divison of Nephrology and Clinical Immunology at the University of Alberta Hospital and Professor of Nephrology, took a sabbatical to study medical ethics.
In June 1986, the Joint-Faculties Bioethics Project at the University of Alberta and the University of Alberta Hospitals was launched. Dr. Dossetor, as first Professor of Bioethics at the University of Alberta, and his colleagues undertook responsibility for bioethics teaching in the medical curriculum and prepared a bioethics manual (A Handbook of Health Ethics, used until recently) as a teaching resource. In addition, the Bioethics Bulletin (a bioethics newsletter, subsequently renamed Health Ethics Today) was launched to increase interest and awareness of bioethics issues, Joint-Clinical Ethics seminars (currently Health Ethics Seminars) were developed, plus a graduate course (presently INT D 570, Healthcare Ethics) in healthcare ethics was introduced. The Bioethics Project evolved in 1990 into the Division of Biomedical Ethics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta, and in 1993 into the Bioethics Centre, in association with the University of Alberta Hospitals and Faculty of Nursing. Dr. Dossetor served as Director of the Division of Bioethics and Bioethics Centre from 1990 - July 1996. In January 1998, the Bioethics Centre was renamed the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre in honour of Dr. Dossetor’s outstanding contributions to health at the University of Alberta and in Canada.
Dr. Dossetor has 295 medical/scientific publications and has authored and co-authored 10 books. His latest book, Beyond the Hippocratic Oath, published in 2005, is a memoir of the evolution of modern medicine and bioethics which is reflected through his own experiences.
In 1992 Dr. Dossetor was awarded the 125th Canadian Confederation commemorative medal for work with the Kidney Foundation of Canada. In 1995 he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for his achievements in the fields of medicine and bioethics; and was further awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Gold Medal in 2003. In 2007 Dr. Dossetor was the first recipient of the Canadian Medical Association’s Dr. William Marsden Award in Medical Ethics.
The Lifetime Achievement Award presentation took place on Thursday, 31 May 2012 at the Canadian Bioethics Society’s Annual Conference in Montreal.