McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences



Lecture named for McMaster medical school pioneer

Published: March 31, 2009
J. Fraser Mustard
Dr. J. Fraser Mustard

Dr. Fraser Mustard’s contributions in the early years of McMaster University’s school of medicine and his leadership in research on early child development were recognized with the inaugural Dr. J. Fraser Mustard Lecture on the Social Determinants of Health held Monday at the Health Sciences Centre.

A pioneer of Canadian medicine and a tireless advocate of early child development, Dr. Mustard’s distinguished research career began with a focus on the role that blood platelets play in cardiovascular disease. He later demonstrated how Aspirin inhibits platelet function. This work remained the focus of his research after he moved to McMaster in 1966 where he recruited international scientists who helped establish McMaster as a major global centre for thrombosis research.

As a founding member of McMaster’s medical school, Dr. Mustard became deeply involved in developing its innovative problem-based program of medical education which has since been adopted as a model by universities around the world.

In1982, Dr. Mustard changed his career path and took on the challenge of establishing the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) – an "institute without walls" which brought together distinguished investigators from across Canada and around the world to carry out research in interdisciplinary teams exploring significant scientific and social challenges.

Later, he established the Founders’ Network, a ‘virtual’ research group with more than 1,000 participating doctors, scientists and researchers whose mission is to emphasize the crucial importance of children’s experiences in the first six years of life.

In 1999, Dr. Mustard co-authored the Early Years Study for the Ontario government which included specific community recommendations which led to the formation of the Council for Early Child Development and Parenting.

Throughout his career, Dr. Mustard influenced health policy in Canada, serving on many federal and provincial committees, councils and royal commissions.  His awards and honourary degrees include the Gairdner International Award, the Canada Council Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Prize and the William J. Dawson Medal of the Royal Society of Canada.  He is a companion of the Order of Canada and a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

In his welcome address to the packed auditorium, Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences, called it a "special moment" with a distinguished audience which included two members of the Order of Canada, a former dean, three associate deans and a university president.

The inaugural Dr. J. Fraser Mustard Lecture was delivered by Dr. Clyde Hertzman, director of  the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), the College for Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia. He is a former student of Dr. Mustard’s who later became his colleague on research into early child development.

His presentation outlined his work on the development of British Columbia’s implementation of the early development instrument, which measures children’s state of development at kindergarten along five domains of development:  physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, and communication and general knowledge. As a result, B.C. is now the first jurisdiction in the world that has maps of early development that can illuminate the relationships between vulnerability patterns and socioeconomic conditions for every neighbourhood and school district in the province.

Dr. Jean Clinton, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences and associate member of the Offord Centre for Child Studies, said  that Dr. Mustard’s achievements at McMaster continue to echo today. "We hope this will become the pre-eminent lecture on the social determinants of health keeping Dr. Mustard’s work alive, and generating and growing leaders."

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