Dr. Henry G. Friesen appointed Distinguished Fellow of CAHS
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) has announced that Henry G. Friesen C.C., OM, MD, FRSC, FRCP(C), FCAHS, has been appointed a Distinguished Fellow, the highest honour awarded by the Academy. A Distinguished Fellow of the CAHS is someone whose accomplishments are considered of such high distinction that only a select few are worthy of this designation. No more than one Distinguished Fellow can be elected in any given year, and there can be no more than ten CAHS Distinguished Fellows at any time.
Born in Morden, Manitoba, Dr. Friesen attended the University of Manitoba and graduated in science and medicine in 1958. He trained as an endocrinologist at the New England Center Hospital, Boston, and was named a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1963.
In 1965, he was appointed to McGill University and Royal Victoria Hospital. In 1973, he moved to Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba where he served until 1991 as professor and head of the department of physiology, and professor of medicine.
He discovered and successfully isolated and purified the human pituitary hormone prolactin and determined that excessive circulating prolactin caused infertility. This observation laid the groundwork for other investigators and resulted in the development of an antagonist drug, bromocriptine, to treat this cause of infertility.
Dr. Friesen’s influence on academic medicine has gone far beyond his own field of research. In 1991, he was appointed president of the Medical Research Council of Canada, the pre-eminent leadership position in Canadian medical research. The Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund, the Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and the partnership between the Council and the pharmaceutical industry are some of the outgrowths of Dr. Friesen’s imaginative leadership and determination.
In the mid-1990s, he chaired a working group that led to the creation of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, and in 2000, he was appointed the founding chair of Genome Canada, the federal government’s lead corporation supporting genomics research in Canada and served in that role for five years.
In 1998, the U of M awarded Dr. Friesen an honorary doctor of science degree, and also recognized Friesen’s achievements through the creation of the Henry G. Friesen Endowed Chair in Metabolic and Endocrine Diseases.