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National award for geneticist

By Sharon Gray

Dr. Jane Green, a geneticist in the Faculty of Medicine, has received a Knowledge Translation Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Dr. Green started compiling pedigrees on families in Newfoundland and Labrador in which there was a hereditary loss of sight in the 1970s. Since then there has hardly been a study of human genetic disease that she has not been involved with in one capacity or another. Her seminal work on hereditary cancer in the province has spawned several large grants and research endeavours but equally important, it has saved lives, prevented suffering and significantly reduced the provincial health budget.

The $50,000 award will allow Dr. Green to visit all 28 hospitals in Newfoundland and Labrador during 2009 to give presentations on the implications of genetics and hereditary diseases to health care professionals and the public, and to provide in-service teaching to public health nurses. The award will also cover the cost of a part-time research assistant.

In his nomination letter for the award, Dr. Ban Younghusband, chair of the Discipline of Genetics, wrote, “I have known Jane for more than 25 years and I am continuously impressed by her untiring commitment to helping patients, her unwavering quest for knowledge and her love of information and explaining genetics to both professionals and lay audiences. Jane personifies the idea of knowledge translation; she is a consummate educator and an excellent researcher.”

Over her career Dr. Green has talked with thousands of family members, hundreds of affected individuals and dozens of doctors, nurses and health care providers. She is also an enthusiastic teacher of medical students and medical residents.

Dr. Green has put Newfoundland on the map with her international collaborations, but has always stressed the need and desire for human molecular genetics to be carried out at Memorial University. Her work on hereditary colon cancer paved the way for the Colorectal Cancer Study, a collaboration between Memorial University and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, in which she is a key team member. She is also a co-investigator in the Atlantic Medical Genetics and Genomics Initiative, a partnership between researchers at Memorial and Dalhousie University. This project integrates the potential impacts of genetic discovery on the provision of health care services, including assessing the well-being of patients and families who are affected by genetic conditions.

Dr. Green was in Ottawa Nov. 19 to accept the award at the seventh annual Canadian Health Research Awards – A Celebration of Excellence, hosted by CIHR.