Two research pillars honoured with Hellmuth Prize

Western professors Stewart Harris of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Charles Weijer of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities have been awarded the 2014 Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research. The honour recognizes faculty members with outstanding international reputations for their contributions in research – one of the defining hallmarks of a university. Two prizes are offered annually, one in the area broadly defined as the natural sciences and engineering, one in the social sciences and humanities.

This year’s awards ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 6 in Conron Hall, University College, room 224.Dr. Charles Weijer, a professor in the departments of Philosophy and Medicine, and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics, received his MD from the University of Alberta (1988) and PhD from McGill University (1997). He held academic appointments at the University of Toronto and Dalhousie University before joining Western’s faculty in 2005.

Weijer’s academic interests centre on the ethics of medical research. His publications on the use of placebos in clinical trials, the ethical analysis of benefits and harms in research and the protection of communities in research are widely cited. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with scientists on ethical issues in scientific practice.

From 2007­-12, Weijer co-led a team exploring ethical issues in cluster randomized trials, a special kind of clinical trial in which groups — rather than individuals — are randomized to one treatment or another. In 2012, they published the Ottawa Statement on the Ethical Design and Conduct of Cluster Randomized Trials, the world’s first ethics guidelines for these trials.

Weijer is currently working with Adrian Owen on the ethics of functional neuroimaging after serious brain injury. Their research team brings together neuroscientists, neurologists, social scientists and philosophers to examine how neuroimaging can improve the quality of life of neurologically impaired patients and, in some cases, give them a voice in decisions about their medical care.

For his contributions to bioethics, Weijer was elected a Fellow of the Hastings Center, the American College of Physicians, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 2008, he co-founded the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, which is dedicated to fostering collaboration between the humanities and the sciences, and served as the institute’s first director.

Weijer will deliver his lecture, A turn at the masthead: reflections on a career in research ethics, at the May 6 ceremony.




Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry professor Dr. Stewart Harris conducts research in the area of caring for populations at special risk with a focus on the cause and prevention of Type 2 diabetes in First Nations communities. Other research areas include diabetes care in family practice and the role of family physicians in the Canadian Health Care system.

Harris holds the Canadian Diabetes Association Chair in Diabetes Management as well as the Ian McWhinney Chair of Family Medicine Studies. He has appointments in the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism, Department of Family Medicine and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, as well as serves as a research scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute.

Harris received his medical education and family medicine training from the University of Calgary in Alberta. He obtained further training at Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, completing a master’s degree in public health and a fellowship in preventive medicine.

With a research focus on Type 2 diabetes in high-risk populations and the application of clinical practice guidelines for the management of diabetes in primary care, Harris has published more than 219 articles in major peer-reviewed journals.

Western and the Canadian Diabetes Association joined together to establish the National Diabetes Management Strategy under the leadership of Harris with the over-arching goal to evaluate the status of diabetes care in Canada, with an ultimate goal of reducing clinical care gaps and optimizing the management of diabetes.

Harris has served as a board member of numerous national and provincial diabetes-related committees. He has received numerous awards for teaching, health-care research, and service and has been inducted as a Fellow in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Harris will deliver his lecture, The diabetes pandemic; mitigating its impact, at the May 6 ceremony.

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Previous winners of the Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research include:

1997 – Alan Davenport, Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Ian Steele, History;

1998 – William Fyfe, Earth Sciences, and Tom Lennon, Philosophy;

1999 – Michael Bancroft, Chemistry, and David Laidler, Economics;

2000 – Richard Puddephatt, Chemistry, and Regna Darnell, Anthropology;

2001 – Michael Locke, Biology, and Tilottama Rajan, English;

2002 – Grant McFadden, Microbiology and Immunology, and Angela Esterhammer, Modern Languages and Literatures;

2003 – Peter Norton, Chemistry, and Marilyn Randall, French Studies;

2004 – Robert Hegele, Medicine & Biochemistry, and David Bentley, English;

2005 – Ian Mitchell, Physics, and Richard Vernon, Political Science;

2006 – Mel Goodale, Psychology and Physiology and Pharmacology, and Joy Parr, Faculty of Information and Media Studies;

2007 – William Fisher, Psychology, and Rajni Patel, Electrical and Computer Engineering;

2008 – Aaron Fenster, Robarts Research Institute, Schulich, and Patrick Mahon, Visual Arts;

2009 – Brian Feagan, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and John Whalley, Economics;

2010 – Gregor Reid, Lawson Health Research Institute, and Heather Laschinger, Health Sciences;

2011 – Ann Chambers, Lawson Health Research Institute, and Michael Groden, English;

2012 – John Meyer, Psychology, and Terry Peters, Medical Imaging and Medical Biophysics.

2013 – Paul Beamish, Ivey Business School, and Adrian Owen, Psychology