A time for transformative leadership in academic health sciences

Paul W. Armstrong

Abstract


Academic medicine, in its broadest sense, has made major contributions to human health in the past quarter century. This has been achieved in large part because it has attracted an outstanding cadre of - largely altruistic – professionals. These pioneering efforts have served as the life-blood of the discipline. Their journeys of discovery, often complemented by collaboration with the pharmaceutical, biotechnological and device industry have yielded remarkable insights into the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and been celebrated by a stunning array of Nobel laureates in medicine and related arenas of endeavour.1 The translation of discovery to the bedside, clinic and the community coupled, most recently, with insights into the gap between potential effectiveness and what ultimately occurs as part of health care delivery, have been monumental in scope. This progress has unquestionably been the province of the university based clinician scientist. Within Canada, the emergence of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and the Canada Research Chairs has been pivotal in launching the careers of a new generation of clinician scientists. The excitement of discovery, gratification associated with direct patient care, and satisfaction of inspiring learning while engaging the next generation of emerging health professionals is rewarded by a career in academic medicine characterized by extraordinary challenge, fulfillment and meaning. As remarkable as these advances in quantity and quality of life have been (in large part attributable to health care research and its implementation) the promises of molecular medicine and abundant new technologies portend an exciting future whereby academic medicine can build upon its noble and traditional contributions to human health.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v30i3.1081

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