“Will genetics transform clinical medicine?"


Leading genetic and genomics expert to deliver Wilder Penfield Lecture

World-renowned expert in immunology and genetics, Professor Sir John Bell is coming to Montreal as the guest of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), McGill University and the Friends of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, was knighted in 2008 for his service to medicine. He attributes his success to the frontier spirit that tends to go with his Canadian nationality. The recipient of the 2009 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research, Professor Bell will deliver the prestigious Wilder Penfield Lecture on September 23, 2009 at 4 p.m. as part of The Neuro’s 75th Anniversary celebration. The event will be held at the Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre of the MNI, 3801 University St.

Named in honour of The Neuro’s founder, the annual Wilder Penfield Lecture features distinguished leaders of the community from a variety of fields, including medicine, science, business, government, philanthropy and the arts. Previous speakers include Philippe Couillard, former Minister of Health and Social Services; the Honourable Jim Prentice, former Minister of Industry; philosopher Daniel Dennett; and paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and science historian Stephen Jay Gould.

“We are delighted that Sir John Bell will deliver this year’s Penfield lecture,” said Dr. David Colman, Director of The Neuro. “His contributions to science and medicine and his accomplishments as a clinician scientist reflect Penfield’s vision for accelerating the advancement of scientific research and patient care.”

“We congratulate Sir John Bell on this significant award in recognition of his remarkable talent and superb achievements in the fields of genetics and genomics, and in the evolution of genetic research toward a greater emphasis on clinical issues,” said Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University. “The Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research is a singular honour. McGill is pleased to welcome Dr. Bell back to Montreal this fall and we look forward with interest to his lecture.” 

During his visit, Bell will meet government and university leaders, and research colleagues. McGill University will host Bell at a luncheon for Rhodes Scholars, since it was as a Rhodes Scholar that he first went to Oxford. McGill has produced more Rhodes Scholars than any other Canadian university. Bell will also recall the important work of McGill Professor Dr. William Osler, another Canadian who became Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford (1905-1919). Bell delivered an Osler Lecture at McGill in 2003.

Bell is Chairman of the Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (UK) and advisor to the Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is President of The Academy of Medical Sciences in the UK and founder of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford.

Earlier this summer, McGill and the University of Oxford established a partnership in neuroscience through the Brain@McGill program, bringing their world-class research expertise to one of the great challenges of this century: understanding how the brain works. McGill has long been a leader in neuroscience research and has taken this field as one of its top institutional priorities, building on an impressive history and current strengths of more than 200 faculty and the largest neuroscience training program in Canada.

The Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research was established in 2005 by the Friends of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in recognition of Dr. Friesen’s distinguished leadership, vision and innovative contributions to health research and health research policy. The prize is a collaborative project of Friends of CIHR with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.  For more information, please visit www.fcihr.ca

The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) is a unique academic medical centre dedicated to neuroscience. The Neuro is a research and teaching institute of McGill University and forms the basis for the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. Founded in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro is recognized internationally for integrating research, compassionate patient care and advanced training, all key to advances in science and medicine. Neuro researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience, and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders, and other neurological disorders. For more information, please visit www.mni.mcgill.ca

McGill University, founded in Montreal, Quebec in 1821, is Canada’s leading postsecondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 34,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 150 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,000 francophones – with more than 6,400 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body. For information, please visit www.mcgill.ca

Contact Information

Anita Kar
Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital
anita.kar [at] mcgill.ca
Office Phone: 
(514) 398-3376