McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Three pioneers inducted into Community of Distinction

By Laura Thompson
Published: November 7, 2008

A champion of McMaster’s fledging medical school, an internationally renowned investigator of deep-vein thrombosis and a physiotherapist who brought problem-based learning to her field are being honoured by McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Arthur N. Bourns, Jack Hirsh and Helen Saarinen-Rahikka were inducted into the Faculty’s Community of Distinction in a ceremony on Nov. 7. The biographies and portraits of the three inductees have been added to the newly renovated gallery, now located in the Ewart Angus Centre within the Health Sciences Centre.

The Community of Distinction honours alumni, faculty and staff of the Faculty of Health Sciences who have brought distinction and recognition to McMaster University and the Faculty through outstanding scholarship and innovative research.

"All three inductees this year have demonstrated incredible vision and passion as pioneers of what is now the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and the School of Rehabilitation Science," said John Kelton, vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences and dean of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

"Their significant contributions helped shape this Faculty into what it is today — a place of innovation in research and education that is recognized the world over."

Up to five individuals are selected annually to join the Community of Distinction, which now includes 29 members. The gallery was established in 2003.


Arthur Bourns

Arthur N. Bourns, PhD

Arthur Bourns played an integral role in the founding of McMaster’s medical school by translating McMaster President Harry Thode’s vision into a plan of action. In 1963, the chemistry professor wrote the detailed briefs to the provincial government advocating for a McMaster medical school and a unique university hospital. He continued his active support of the fledgling school during his tenure as president of McMaster University 1972 to 1980. Dr. Bourns has been recognized internationally for his research in physical organic chemistry and for contributions to science policy. The recipient of five honorary degrees, he was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1982.


Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh, MD

Jack Hirsh is an internationally renowned medical researcher who pioneered the investigation and treatment of deep-vein thrombosis, and his basic and clinical research has led to safer, more effective anticoagulants. He joined McMaster in 1970 and served as chair of the Department of Medicine from 1981 to 1988. A tireless mentor, his students have become health care leaders throughout Canada and around the world. Since becoming a professor emeritus in 1994, he has been named a member of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, been inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and won the Gairdner Foundation International Award for Achievement.


Helen Saarinen-Rahikka

Helen Saarinen-Rahikka, MHSc

Helen Saarinen-Rahikka was a physiotherapist and educator with an international reputation as a leader in physiotherapy.  As inaugural chair of the Physiotherapy BHSc program (1989-1992), she pioneered an innovative, problem-based curriculum, the first of its kind in the world. She taught for 34 years (1972-1996) as the program evolved from a diploma at Mohawk College to a master’s degree at McMaster University. Known for her ability to recognize potential and facilitate excellence, she encouraged and mentored two generations of students and physiotherapy clinicians. The Helen Saarinen Lectureship is held annually in her honour in the School of Rehabilitation Science.


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