Distinguished Alumni

We invite you to help us continue the tradition of recognizing University of Alberta alumni by nominating alumni who have made a difference. The Awards program honours alumni who have distinguished themselves—and their alma mater—through their many contributions to their profession and the community at large.

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.

2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards   


Some Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry distinguished recipients:

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.