Sept. 21, 2021

7 University of Calgary researchers inducted into prestigious Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

Faculty recognized for their advocacy, research, and impact
Top from left: Susa Benseler, Keith Dobson, Richard Frayne, John Gilleard. Bottom from left: Gilaad Kaplan, Richard Leigh, Suzanne Tough.

The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) inducted seven faculty members for their demonstrated leadership, creativity, and distinctive contributions to advancing health sciences. These Fellows join an esteemed community of Canada’s top-ranked health and biomedical scientists and scholars — an achievement considered one of the highest honours in the Canadian health sciences community.

Dr. Susa Benseler, MD, PhD; Dr. Keith Dobson, PhD; Dr. Richard Frayne, PhD; Dr. John Gilleard, DVM, PhD; Dr. Gilaad Kaplan, MD; Dr. Richard Leigh, PhD; and Dr. Suzanne Tough, PhD, were inducted into the academy this month.

“The dedication of these scholars in their pursuit of transformative health science has led to tremendous achievements in their fields,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research). “Their academic leadership as CAHS fellows will enrich interdisciplinary activities to improve the health of Canadians.”

Susa Benseler

  • Professor, Department of Paediatrics, University of Calgary; paediatric rheumatologist, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Alberta Health Services; director, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute

Benseler is an international leader in childhood inflammatory diseases research. She established BrainWorks, a global precision medicine research program — Brain on Fire — for children with brain inflammation that results in devastating strokes and intractable seizures. BrainWorks research enabled early recognition, effective treatment, and improved outcomes around the world. Her work in the Understanding Childhood Arthritis Network advances precision health strategies for childhood arthritis integrating genomic research, innovative eHealth, and economic evaluations. She serves as a director of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, advancing child health research.

Keith S. Dobson

  • Professor of clinical psychology, member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Dobson is one of the world’s most highly regarded and influential psychologists. His original scholarship, leadership, and advocacy in multiple areas have significantly changed how practitioners help individuals who suffer from mental health disorders. He has refined models of, and evidence-based treatments for clinical depression. His research on mental illness stigma has transformed perceptions and attitudes in both social and professional contexts and promoted best practices for stigma reduction. The mental health programs that he has helped develop have improved the mental wellness of hundreds of thousands of Canadians and have been adopted internationally.

Richard Frayne

  • Professor, departments of Radiology and Clinical Neurosciences, member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Frayne is a tenured professor at the University of Calgary. He is an imaging scientist whose research bridges natural science and engineering to clinical applications of neurovascular diseases. MR equipment vendors license the TRICKS technology that he co-developed. Frayne chairs the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s National Scientific Review Committee, which sets science funding policy in cardio/cerebrovascular research and links the scientific community and the foundations’ Board. Locally, Frayne was the scientific cirector of the Seaman Family MR Centre, and is the current deputy director of the internationally acclaimed Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

John Gilleard

  • Professor, Department of Comparative Biology and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases in the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Gilleard is a veterinarian, internationally recognized parasitologist, and widely published and cited researcher/educator. His research program integrates genomics, molecular biology, and genetics to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in livestock and human parasites, study epidemiology and improve diagnosis, surveillance, and control. Gilleard’s One Health approach has led him to work with global health agencies such as the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has held senior academic leadership positions, including associate dean research, University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and president of the American Society of Veterinary Parasitologists.

Gilaad G. Kaplan

  • Professor, departments of Medicine and Community Health Sciences, member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Kaplan is a gastroenterologist and epidemiologist who is internationally renowned for studying the global epidemiology of digestive diseases. He is the past chair of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Counsel of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada (CCC) and co-chair of CCC’s National COVID-IBD Taskforce. He was inducted as a Fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association and named by Helio Gastroenterology as one of the top 200 leading innovators in gastroenterology. In 2020, Clarivate, Web of Science named him a Highly Cited Researcher in recognition of being in the top one per cent of cited researchers.

Richard Leigh

  • Senior associate dean – faculty affairs, professor, departments of Medicine and Physiology and Pharmacology, member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Leigh is one of Canada’s leading asthma specialists, recognized internationally for his work in improving asthma patient care. As a highly regarded clinician-scientist, he has successfully linked translational and clinical research findings to enhance our understanding of and improve asthma treatments. His work is regularly highlighted through his impressive publication record, numerous invited talks and multiple clinical and research excellence awards. His appointments have recognized his commitment to academic leadership and mentoring (capacity building) as the former academic department head, medicine, and currently as a senior associate dean in the Cumming School of Medicine.

Suzanne Tough

  • Professor, department of Community Health Sciences and Paediatrics, member of the Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, O’Brien Institute for Public Health, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Tough’s research on maternal health has led to fundamental changes in prenatal care and clinical practice. She leads the innovative All Our Babies/Families study, a cohort of over 3,000 families followed prospectively for 10 years resulting in a changed understanding of the relationship between early life events, mental health, and long-term outcomes. Tough is a leader in translating evidence to practice, longitudinal research, and mental health. She is a professor in the Cumming School of Medicine and has held leadership roles as a scientific director and Policy Fellow. Numerous agencies have recognized her, including the Canadian Pediatric Society, Global YMCA Women of Vision, and the United Nations International Woman’s Day for her leadership in innovation, science and mentorship.

The University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) is driven to create the future of health. We are a proud leader with seven world-class research institutes and 2,900 students, as well as faculty and staff, working to advance education and research in precision medicine and precision public health, improving lives in our community and around the world. Visit and follow us @UCalgaryMed.

The University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) was established in 2005 and in a short time has carved a reputation for itself as place for innovative veterinary education and cutting-edge basic and applied research, now ranking in the top 40 veterinary programs worldwide. Our mission is to bring innovation and community together to advance animal, human, and environmental health. Visit and follow us @ucalgaryvetmed.