University of Alberta alumni bring honour to themselves and their alma mater in a multitude of ways. Each year at a gala ceremony, the University of Alberta Alumni Association recognizes outstanding alumni and their contributions to society. The Alumni Recognition Awards celebrate the diverse accomplishments of alumni and the recognition they bring to the University. Nominations are accepted for deserving alumni in six categories.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is the Alumni Association's most prestigious award. These awards are conferred each year to recognize living University of Alberta graduates whose truly outstanding achievements have earned them national or international prominence. Alumni who receive Distinguished Alumni Awards are also inducted to the Alumni Wall of Recognition.
2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards
Marcia A. Boyd, ’69 DDS
Marcia Boyd launched her dental career from the back of a dog sled, delivering dental care to remote eastern Arctic Inuit communities. Her work has since established her as an internationally recognized trailblazer in the dental profession and one of the world’s best dental educators. Boyd has played a key role in shaping the future of dentistry: as a professor emerita and former dean of the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Dentistry, and as past president of the American College of Dentists—the first Canadian woman and second Canadian to hold this position. She has also spoken internationally and chaired task forces that have improved dental education, accreditation and ethical practices in the U.S. and Canada. Boyd’s work, which includes serving on the Women's Advisory Committee and the International Women's Leadership program of the American Dental Education Association, has paved the way for women in the profession, often as the first woman to hold leadership and mentoring positions.Her recognitions run the gamut of international honours, including four honorary degrees, the Order of Canada and was the first woman to receive the American College of Dentists’ highest honour, the William J. Gies Award. Currently retired from UBC, Boyd serves as a consultant and examiner for the National Dental Examining Board of Canada, continuing to live by her personal motto: “seek knowledge, conquer fear, do justice.”
Charles Lee, ’90 BSc(Spec), ’93 MSc, ’96 PhD
It was once believed that every person had two copies of each gene in their genome. Charles Lee’s landmark discovery in 2004 challenged this assumption and began a new era of biomedical research. Lee’s research revealed that genes once thought to always occur in only two copies per genome can be present in more or fewer copies, or be missing altogether. These variations can increase an individual’s susceptibility or resistance to disease. Understanding that these large-scale genomic differences exist among individuals has opened new avenues to uncover the mysteries behind the causes—and potential cures—for diseases and conditions including cancer, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular diseases and various mental illnesses. Lee has served as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and has received numerous accolades for his research into the human genome, including his election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, receiving a Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate and being named president of the International Human Genome Organisation. Lee is currently the scientific director and professor of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Conn., developing diagnostics and therapeutics tailored to an individual's unique genome, with the goal of prescribing the most effective drugs with the fewest side-effects.
Some Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry distinguished recipients:
2017 – Lorne B. Warneke, ’63 BSc(HonsCert), ’67 MD
A psychiatrist, a clinician, teacher and advocate for the rights of LGBTQ individuals. He has fought tirelessly against the stigma associated with mental illness and is a champion for gender rights.
2016 – Norgrove Penny, ‘71 BSc(Med), ‘73 MD
A sports medicine and pediatric orthopedic surgery, he has helped change the lives of countless children with disabilities in Canada and in Uganda, where he partnered with fellow surgeon, Dr. Shafique Pirani, to develop the Uganda Clubfoot Project.
2016 – Donald C. Fletcher, ‘80 BMedSc, ‘82 MD
Recognizing his outstanding contributions as a clinician and researcher to the field of retinal disease and the provision of low vision care in under served communities across North America and worldwide in China, the Philippines, Chile, Brazil and Zimbabwe.
2015 – Harold I. Eist ’61 MD
Colleagues have called Harold Eist, ’61 MD, the Winston Churchill of American psychiatry. As a forceful, eloquent advocate for the mentally ill during 50 years of practice, he has been a leader and an agent of change in the medical community.
2012 – Theodore (Teddy) Aaron, ’39 BSc, ’42 MD
Teddy Aaron not only witnessed major changes in the discipline in his nearly seven decades of practicing medicine, he was at the forefront of a number of them. He was the first person in Alberta to administer penicillin, and his research led to the use of antihistamines in cold medications.
2011 – John Godel, ’53 BSc, ’55 MD
A University of Alberta professor emeritus in pediatrics, John Godel is a physician highly respected for his contributions to pediatric health care in remote Canadian and African communities, and for his research on vitamin D as protection from a host of health conditions.
2010 – Myron Semkuley, “60 BSc, ’64 MD; and Elaine Semkuley, ’62 BSc(Pharm)
Myron Semkuley and Elaine Semkuley used their medical backgrounds to help others by establishing Medical Mercy Canada (MMC). Founded in 1991, MMC is a volunteer organization that provides help to impoverished persons in the Ukraine and Southeast Asia. It has six sites, including clinics in refugee camps, villages, orphanages and schools in remote jungles.
2009 – F. Ann Hayes, ’61 Dip (RehabMed), ’68 MD
A shining example of the pioneer spirit, Ann Hayes is a compassionate physician who is making a significant contribution to humanity by providing educational opportunities to vulnerable, marginalized girls in Africa.
2008 – Tak Wah Mak, ’72 PhD
Tak Wah Mak is one of world’s most important researchers in the fields of immunology, biochemistry and cancer research. Through his groundbreaking work, he has made tremendous contributions to medical research. He is internationally renowned for identifying and cloning T-cell receptor genes, a major breakthrough in immunology that has greatly accelerated advancements in the understanding of many diseases.
2007 – Joseph B. Martin, ’62 MD, ’98 B.Sc. (Hon)
Joseph Martin is an internationally renowned neurologist, researcher and administrator. As a researcher, he focused on better understanding of brain regulation of pituitary hormone secretion and the genetics of neurological diseases. In 1980, he established the National Institute of Health-sponsored Huntington Disease Centre. Early work led to a breakthrough in identifying a genetic marker near the gene for Huntington’s Disease, culminating in the identification of the gene for this disorder.
2007 – B. Brett Finlay, ’81 BSc, ’86 PhD
B. Brett Finlay is at the forefront of the emerging field of Cellular Microbiology. As one of the world’s foremost experts on the molecular understanding of the ways bacteria infect their hosts, he is highly respected for his groundbreaking strides in forwarding infectious disease research.
2004 – Henry J. Shimizu, '52 BSc, '54 MD
One of the first Japanese-Canadians to receive an MD and practice medicine in Canada after World War II, Henry J. Shimizu served with distinction as a professor, researcher and administrator at the University of Alberta for more than 30 years. He played a significant role in the development of the U of A Hospital, where he co-founded Western Canada’s first Burn Treatment Centre. He also assisted in the establishment of a residency program in plastic surgery.
2003 – Anthony Fields, '74 MD
Anthony Fields is a distinguished oncologist, compassionate physician, and respected teacher. He is active in cancer research and practices as an oncologist, treating patients with gastrointestinal malignancies. He is regarded as a motivational authority in cancer control, and inspired a generation of medical students and residents with his energy, enthusiasm and dedication.
2001 – Ray V. Rajotte, ’71 BSc(Eng), ’73 MSc, ’75 PhD
The founder and director of the internationally renowned Islet Transplantation Group at the University of Alberta, Ray Rajotte started his basic research in the early 1970s by isolating, preserving and transplanting the body’s insulin-producing cells. In 1999, he and his transplantation group made headlines around the world by demonstrating a 100% success rate in freeing insulin-dependent diabetics from the need for daily insulin injections. Their breakthrough transplantation method, now known as the Edmonton Protocol, has brought hope for a normal life to people around the world who have severe type 1 diabetes mellitus.
2001 – D. Lorne Tyrrell, ’64 BSc, ’68 MD
This outstanding research scientist brought international attention to the University of Alberta when he developed the world’s first oral antiviral drug for the treatment of Hepatitis B. Dr. Tyrrell continues to work directly with patients and actively leads the respected Glaxo Wellcome Heritage Research Institute, which was originally created to support his Hepatitis B research.
1996 – Ernest McCoy '47 BSc, '49 MD
Ernest McCoy is a renowned pediatric researcher who led the University of Alberta's Department of Pediatrics from 1971 to 1985 and helped establish the department's national reputation for excellence in research. An expert in the metabolic changes associated with Down’s Syndrome and other forms of developmental delay, he inspired a generation of pediatric physicians.
1995 – Patrick Doyle, '47 BSc, '49 MD
A leader in the field of otolaryngology in nationally and internationally, Patrick Doyle made significant advances in the operating room and in the classroom. In 1982, he performed the first cochlear implant surgery in Canada, enabling a young woman who had been completely deaf to hear environmental sounds, understand speech and even talk on the telephone.
1994 – Helen Huston '49 BSc, '51 MD, '85 LLD (Honorary)
Helen Huston has been an inspiration to countless Canadians and others around the world. For more than 30 years, she served unselfishly as a medical missionary to Nepal, helping improve the quality of life for some of the poorest citizens of that country.