McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

O’Byrne elected Royal Society fellow

By Suzanne Morrison
Published: September 13, 2010
Paul O’Byrne
Paul O’Byrne, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and director of the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph’s Hospital

Three hundred million people world-wide currently suffer from asthma. Many of them enjoy a better quality of life because of McMaster University researcher Dr. Paul O’Byrne.

O’Byrne, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and director of the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph’s Hospital, has been elected a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society of Canada in recognition of his lifelong contributions towards improving the lives of asthmatics around the world.

Fellowship in the 128-year-old society is considered the top academic accomplishment in Canada.

As a world-leading asthma expert, O’Byrne is internationally recognized for his seminal contributions into understanding the causes and treatment of asthma, including the first studies of the central role of airway inflammation. His studies have influenced treatment guidelines worldwide.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, he obtained his medical degree at University College there. Following a brief period of post-graduate training in Ireland, he moved to Canada to complete training in internal medicine and respiratory medicine at McMaster University.

O’Byrne’s research on the mechanisms and treatment of asthma started during his post-doctoral training when he developed a novel method of measuring airway hyper-responsiveness, a characteristic feature of asthma.

O’Byrne was awarded a Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC) fellowship to train in the U.S. He returned to McMaster in 1984 and subsequently awarded an MRC Scientist Award in 1989 and a Senior Scientist Award in 1995. He is the first scientist in McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences to hold 20 years of continuous career support from the MRC.

In 1992, O’Byrne was promoted to professor and, in 2002, appointed chair of the Department of Medicine. In 1998, he was appointed Moran Campbell Chair in Respiratory Medicine.

His research encompasses more than 300 publications in peer-review journals, 87 book chapters and 10 books which he has edited.

O’Byrne’s research excellence and standing in the worldwide community has resulted in his appointment to the Global Initiative for Asthma, first as Chair of the Scientific Committee, then as Chair of the Executive Committee. This initiative develops global asthma diagnosis and management guidelines.

Richard Harris-School of Geography and Earth Sciences and Bruce Gaulin of the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research were also elected as fellows.

In addition, two physics and astronomy professors received prestigious awards from the society. Kari Dalnoki-Veress received the Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics. Doug Welch was honoured with the McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science.

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