On March 16, Dr. Eduardo Franco, Chair of the Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology at McGill University, was in Porto, Portugal to receive an honorary doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa) from the University Fernando Pessoa.
A James McGill Professor in the Departments of Oncology and Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, in addition to holding the position of Director, Division of Cancer Epidemiology, over the course of his career Dr. Franco has trained over 110 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and 30 undergraduate trainees. He has given more than 700 presentations as invited speaker, has published over 460 scientific articles and 60 chapters, and edited two books on cancer epidemiology and prevention. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Preventive Medicine and Founding Editor of Preventive Medicine Reports, and has served on the editorial boards of various journals, including eLife, Epidemiology, the International Journal of Cancer, and PLoS-Medicine. He served twice as an advisor to the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel and is an elected council member representing North American epidemiologists in the International Epidemiological Association.
In his acceptance speech he thanked McGill as a home that provided him for 28 years with the intellectual shelter and nurturing support that allowed him to devote his time to research, teaching, and service. As to the reasons that brought him so much recognition, he stated “I have had the privilege to be an actor in one of the nicest stories in cancer control and prevention. In 25 years, my peer community has identified the infectious cause of cervical cancer, the human papillomavirus, or HPV for short, and developed vaccines to prevent HPV infection and its downstream consequence – cancer -- from occurring. We have also developed improved tools for detecting this disease before it can no longer be controlled. For the first time, we can now use the verb ‘eradicate’ in relation to a human cancer. I feel honoured for having served as an ambassador of this successful odyssey in scientific discovery that will eliminate cervical cancer and control many other HPV-associated cancers.”
During his speech, Dr. Franco read 3 poems from Fernando Pessoa -- the giant of Portuguese literature after which the university was named – to symbolize the educator’s mission, the importance of family support in one’s career, and the vocational calling for a life devoted to science.
Dr. Franco has been the recipient of numerous awards prior to this most recent honour. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2011 and of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2012. In 2010 he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology. In 2004 he received the Warwick Prize from the Canadian Cancer Society. In 2008 he received the Women in U.S. Government’s Presidential Leadership Award. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Papillomavirus Society in 2015 and in 2017 received the Distinguished Service to Cancer Research Award from the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance, the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research from the University of British Columbia and the Geoffrey Howe Outstanding Contribution Award from the Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics. He was inducted as Officer of the Order of Canada in 2016.
Congratulations Dr. Franco!