Celebrating excellence

L-R: David Schiefele, recipient of the Bill & Marilyn Webber Lifetime Achievement Award, and Dermot Kelleher, Dean of the UBC Faculty of Medicine. Photo by: Don Erhardt

L-R: David Schiefele, recipient of the Bill & Marilyn Webber Lifetime Achievement Award, and Dermot Kelleher, Dean of the UBC Faculty of Medicine. Photo by: Don Erhardt

The Faculty of Medicine honoured 36 of its faculty members and staff at its annual awards reception Oct. 8.

“Let’s remember why we’re here as a Faculty. We’re here to educate students who go on to make a difference in the world of medicine, and to create new knowledge that benefits the human condition. We’re here to change the world for our patients and the populations that we serve,” said Dermot Kelleher, who became Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in September and was presiding over his first awards ceremony at UBC. “Recognizing and supporting our constellation of talent, as we’re doing here tonight, is more than just simply a nice gesture – it’s absolutely central to how we view ourselves, and how we see ourselves in the world outside. Tonight, the recipients of these awards should be justifiably proud of their achievements. But these achievements do not occur in isolation, and we should all share that pride, and should celebrate the excellence of this Faculty of Medicine.”

Awards were given in 18 categories to faculty and staff throughout the organization in areas of research, teaching and service, both to their units, the Faculty, the university, or the wider community.

Professor Emeritus David Schiefele, from the Department of Pediatrics, received the Bill and Marilyn Webber Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Schiefele, during his nearly four decades at UBC, became a leader in understanding infectious disease and developing vaccines against them.

“This is a man who is absolutely deserving of this great honour,” Dr. Kelleher said, pointing out that he was a “central figure in the near elimination of meningitis, epiglottitis, cellulitis, and septic arthritis.”

Dr. Kelleher noted his teaching of “hundreds, and possibly thousands of medical students through lectures and bedside tutorials,” which earned him the “Teacher of the Year” award from BC Children’s Hospital’s pediatric residents — four times over.

Other highlights of Dr. Schiefele’s career:

  • He established the Royal College infectious disease training program at BC Children’s Hospital in 1989 – a program whose graduates have taken academic positions around the globe, including Oxford, Melbourne, Singapore and Kuwait City.
  • He participated in dozens of research advisory committees, task forces and review committees at UBC and BC Children’s Hospital.
  • He lectured at nearly ever Canadian Immunization Conference since the biannual event started in 1988, and delivered hundreds of presentations, grand rounds, continuing medical education courses and workshops across B.C., especially in rural and remote areas.
  • He was the Founder – and remains Director of – the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at the Child & Family Research Institute, the first centre of its kind in Canada, and was the Founding Chair of the Canadian Association for Immunization Research and Evaluation, which is dedicated to translational collaboration among researchers, stakeholders and health care workers.
  • He developed a surveillance network that unites 12 Canadian pediatric centres, which has created innovative surveillance methods to monitor disease and adverse reactions to vaccines.
  • Through his leadership of the Influenza Research Network, he led four clinical trials of the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, recruiting over 1,000 participants at 13 sites. Those trials confirmed the appropriate vaccine dosing, and confirmed the safety of re-vaccination of people who had received the original vaccine a year before, and demonstrated that Canada has the capacity to conduct large, fast trials that encompass all age groups, in the face of urgent public health crises.

“Please join me in honouring David, for his intellectual curiosity, for his leadership, for his commitment to research, and most importantly for his impact in stopping disease and prevention of disease reoccurence,” Dr. Kelleher said.

The Faculty of Medicine also honoured Professor Emeritus David Hardwick, of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, who recently stepped down from his role as Special Advisor to the Dean, Planning — a post he has held for 16 years.

“What a fantastic panoply of personalities, scientists, researchers, educators — people are who are really contributing to making this the great university and the great Faculty of Medicine that it is,” Dr. Kelleher said.