Research Canada announces winners of 2016 Leadership Award

News Release

Two advocates of health research and health innovation were presented last night with the Research Canada Leadership Award. Dr. Grant Pierce, Executive Director of Research, St. Boniface Hospital and The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) received the 2016 Research Canada Leadership Award at a ceremony in Toronto held in conjunction with the Prix Galien Canada 2016 Innovative Drug Product award at the HRF Gala.

Research Canada Board Chair Dr. Ryan Wiley and President and CEO Ms. Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety with the two 2016 Research Canada Leadership Award recipients Dr. Grant Pierce on the right and Dr. Julio Montaner of the The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) on the left.

The Research Canada Leadership Award was created to recognize outstanding champions of health research and health innovation at the local, regional or national level—advocates who educate policymakers, the media and the public about the health, social, and economic benefits of research and innovation in Canada.

Dr. Ryan Wiley, Research Canada’s Chair and President of Shift Health, noted that the selection of the winners was a challenge given the quality of deserving nominations. “Our industry is fortunate to have many fine individuals and organizations working tirelessly to ensure that health research is supported by Canadians and their leaders,” he said. “It is the life-changing nature of our work that makes this activity so special, and our champions so cherished,” he added.

“There is a great deal of competition for public attention and support, and it is the work of these advocates that keeps health research and health innovation high priorities for all governments and for the public,” said Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety, President and CEO of Research Canada.

Research Canada will continue to recognize the achievements of more advocates in the coming years with this annual award and thanks all of those who submitted nominations for this year. “While not everyone could be recognized this year, the impact of their contribution is underlined by Canadians’ continued strong support for health research,” noted Ms. Gordon-El-Bihbety.


For more information on the Research Canada Awards:

Sean Dillon-Fordyce
Communications Manager
Research Canada
Telephone: 613-277-4757


About Research Canada

Research Canada is a national, broad-based alliance dedicated to increasing investments in health research through collaborative advocacy. We believe health research is a shared benefit, shared responsibility and an investment in Canada’s future. We engage government, academia, industry and non-profit sectors to build support for balanced and long-term health research funding – investments that strengthen Canada’s innovation system and lead to better health, sustainable health care, new commercialization opportunities, and skilled jobs for Canadians.

About the winners

Dr. Grant Pierce, Executive Director of Research St. Boniface Hospital

Dr. Grant Pierce has been an outstanding leader in advancing the case for the hope and promise of health research in advancing deeper understanding of factors leading to health and disease.

In his capacity as Executive Director of Research during the past 10 years, he persuaded the Boards of both St. Boniface Hospital as well as St. Boniface Hospital Foundation to allocate sufficient funds to promote Bench to Bedside Research activities at the I.H. Asper Clinical Research Institute and the St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre.  Dr. Pierce lobbied the Government of Manitoba and the Royal Bank of Canada to provide resources for exposure  of elementary through high school students to health research by creating the RBC Youth BioLab Jeunesse. In concert with St. Boniface Hospital Foundation he, as principal spokesperson for research appears regularly on a very popular radio station (CJOB) on Sunday mornings to answer questions from the public regarding health and health research issues.

Dr. Pierce’s advocacy for health research is an inclusive one. He has organized “Hoops from the Heart,” a unique program for disadvantaged students frequently including indigenous students. Since 1986, as Scientific Secretary/Chairman of several conferences he persuaded philanthropic foundations and the private sector to provide funds for raising the profile of Manitoba health researchers including research collaborations. As Professor of Physiology and Pharmacy, he advocated for the University of Manitoba as well as the Federal Department of Agriculture to study the role of functional foods in preventing human diseases. This resulted in the establishment of the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM) in 2005.

The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE)

The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) has been pivotal in the fight against HIV and AIDS in British Columbia, Canada, and internationally. For more than two decades, the advances discovered at the BC-CfE have informed policy, service delivery, harm reduction approaches, and quality of care. These advances are evident across the many programs and initiatives currently advocated for by the BC-CfE, impacting those living with HIV at both an individual and community level.

The BC-CfE led the implementation of HAART (a customized combination of different classes of medications) in BC and became the first Canadian province to adopt triple drug therapy and viral load testing for all eligible patients in a publicly funded plan. Almost immediately HIV/AIDS-related morbidity and mortality was dramatically reduced and within a year, AIDS deaths in BC decreased by over 80%. Armed with these local results, the BC-CfE advocated for the implementation of HAART around the world and played a unique health research advocacy leadership role in helping to advise the 1996 Antiretroviral Therapy Guidelines published in JAMA. By the late 90s it was abundantly clear that HAART had transformed HIV disease into a long-term manageable condition.

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