Researcher given ‘Royal’ treatment

September 14th, 2012 · No Comments · News, News Release, Research

Charles Bernstein, a renowned expert on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), helped put Winnipeg on the map as home to some of the most innovative gastroenterology research in the world.

The University of Manitoba professor’s pioneering efforts are now being recognized by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), the country’s top association of scholars and scientists. Bernstein has been elected as a Fellow of the Society, which is considered the highest honour an academic can achieve in the arts, humanities and sciences. Bernstein is among 71 new Fellows for 2012, the RSC recently announced.

U of M Distinguished Professors Raymond P. Perry and Frank Plummer (who is already RSC Fellow) are also being recognized. Perry will receive the Konrad Adenauer Research Award, which is given to a Canadian scholar whose research work in the humanities or the social sciences has earned international recognition. Plummer won the McLaughlin Medal, which celebrates distinguished achievement in medical sciences in Canada.

“We are extremely proud that these leading researchers choose the University of Manitoba as the place where they want to be. Their dedication and accomplishments in research are outstanding as is the impact of their work felt across the globe. They are most deserving of this recognition,” said Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Bernstein (internal medicine professor) is an internationally recognized leader in the study of inflammatory bowel disease, having developed the largest population-based database of the disorder in North America. The founder and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical and Research Center, Bernstein was first to identify Canada as having one of the highest incidences of IBD in the world. His work has revealed how stress can precede relapses and depression can long precede these diseases, suggesting the nervous system plays a role in the regulation of our digestive immunity. His research has identified the possible role of microbes in this condition, as well as the IBD-linked risk of bone fractures, venour thrombosis and cancer development. His reports on the lack of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in First Nation populations is widely cited and has generated novel hypotheses into these mysterious disorders.

Dr. Perry (psychology professor) is known for his groundbreaking contributions to social, educational, and health psychology. His research offers provocative new insights into cognitive and affective processes that govern adaptation across the life-span. Whether focusing on young adults coping with failure, people who stigmatize others for their “differentness”, or older adults struggling with debilitating health conditions, Perry is helping to reshape our understanding of how people deal with life’s calamities. The recurring theme throughout his research: Adaptive mind-sets foster emotional well-being, goal attainment, quality of life, physical health, and longevity. To this end, he has pioneered cognitive treatment interventions that have helped countless individuals overcome life’s challenges. His research accomplishments have been recognized by leading societies in psychology and education in Canada, the United States and Germany.

Dr. Plummer (medical microbiology and community health sciences professor) is one of the world’s foremost HIV/AIDS researchers. He and his team were among the first to realize that some people are resistant to HIV infection despite repeated exposure, that HIV is transmitted through breast milk, and that male circumcision reduces the risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus. Plummer turns his landmark findings into HIV prevention programs that have since been adopted by governments across the globe, including in hard-hit Africa. His published work has been cited more than 10,000 times, a feat only one per cent of scientists have achieved. He is a Canada Research Chair in Resistance and Susceptibility to Infections, the scientific director general of the National Microbiology Laboratory, and the chief science officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Fellows and award winners from across the country will be officially inducted and honoured Nov. 17 at the Ottawa Conference Centre. This will bring the total number of current Royal Society Fellows from the University of Manitoba to 42.

Founded in 1882, the society’s mission is to recognize scholarly, research and artistic excellence, to advise governments and organizations, and to promote a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world.

For more information contact Katie Chalmers-Brooks, Research Communications Officer, University of Manitoba, at 204-474-7184 (Katie.Chalmers-Brooks@ad.umanitoba.ca).

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