McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences



McMaster researcher to receive 2009 Gairdner Wightman Award

By Laura Thompson
Published: April 1, 2009
David Sackett
Dr. David Sackett, Professor Emeritus, Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics

A McMaster University professor emeritus who is one of the world’s leading authorities on evidence-based medicine has been awarded Canada’s top prize for outstanding leadership in medicine.

Dr. David Sackett, a founder of McMaster’s medical school, has been named the winner of the 2009 Gairdner Wightman Award.

Sackett was 32 and a physician with training in internal medicine, nephrology and epidemiology when he became chair of Canada’s first Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. From 1967 to 1994, he developed and mentored a new breed of applied clinician-scientists and worked with them to create and disseminate evidence-based medicine throughout the world.

McMaster University’s development of evidence-based medicine has been ranked by the British Medical Journal as one of the most important medical breakthroughs of the past 150 years, alongside development of vaccines and antibiotics and the introduction of the importance of sanitation.

The Gairdner Wightman Award is given to a Canadian who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science. The award comes with a $100,000 prize. The Gairdner awards are known as the "baby Nobels" because many winners have later been awarded Nobel prizes.

"Our medical advisory committees have chosen to honour Dr. Sackett with a Gairdner Wightman Award for his outstanding leadership in clinical epidemiology, his rigorous methods in conducting clinical trials and his proper insistence that doctors’ decisions should always be based on the best scientific evidence available," said Dr. John Dirks, president of the Gairdner Foundation.

The Gairdner Wightman Award will be given to Dr. Sackett at the Gairdners’ 50th anniversary banquet in Toronto on October 29, 2009.

Dr. David Sackett is one of seven 2009 Gairdner awardees from Canada, U.S., Colombia and Japan. He will join the other recipients for the Gairdner National Program this fall, lecturing at universities across Canada as well as at the Gairdner Minds That Matter conference at the University of Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 29.

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