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Global leaders in optimizing life-long health

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Congratulations to the 2017 Alumni of Distinction Award recipients: Drs. Robert Bourne, MD’71; Jack Harris; Zain Kassam, MD’09; Peter Leung, PhD’79; Paul Romanson, DDS’72; Cecil Rorabeck, MD'68, DSc'09; David Spence, BA’65, MD’70; and Shawn Steele, BA’01, DDS’05, JD'13.

Drs. Robert Bourne, MD’71, and Cecil Rorabeck, MD’68, DSc’09
Community Service Award
Drs. Bourne and Rorabeck are among the leading experts on hip and knee replacement in the world. They have transformed the field of orthopaedic surgery, taught and mentored generations of physicians, touched the lives of thousands of patients and enriched the feelings of pride across Western University, London and Canada. Their contributions have been felt worldwide through Operation Walk-Canada – medical missions to Guatemala and Ecuador. Through these missions of health and hope they have provided more than 500 total hip and knee replacements to patients who otherwise could not afford these life-changing medical interventions
Dr. Bourne and Rorabeck are visionaries who have received many honours throughout their careers, including the Order of Canada.

Dr. Jack Harris
Honorary Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry
Dr. Jack Harris has been a fixture within the Dentistry community for more than 60 years. He served as a dentist in the London community, served in numerous positions with the Ontario Dental Association, including President, and is credited with playing an integral role in the establishment of the dentistry education program at Western University. Dr. Harris worked with the London & District Dental Society and the University’s then President, Dr. Hall, along with the Board of Governors, to build the case for the establishment of the dental school in London. He served as a leader in the Department of Dentistry at Victoria Hospital for many years, a place which became vital to dental students for instruction and practiSe in hospital dentistry.

Dr. Zain Kassam, MD’08
Young Alumni Award
Dr. Zain Kassam is the Chief Medical Officer of OpenBiome – the world’s first public international stool bank, and a Research Affiliate at MIT. As a gastroenterologist and public health innovator, he contributed to the building OpenBiome and has safely treated more than 22,000 patients at more than 850 hospitals in the United States and around the world. He also pioneered the innovative fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) safety protocols recognized by the American Gastroenterological Association and is the co-inventor of a FMT pill. Dr. Kassam is a public health pioneer and an international microbiome thought leader who is an inspiration to those seeking to change the fabric of health care.  

Dr. Peter Leung, PhD’79
Excellence in Basic Science Research Award
Following his post doctoral training in 1982, Dr. Leung was appointed to a tenure-track position in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of British Columbia, where he remains to this day. During his career he served as the Head of the Basic Sciences Division, the Director of the Graduate Program in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences and Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education in the Faculty of Medicine. He was also the Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Women’s Reproductive Health Research Training Program at the Child and Family Research Institute. For decades, Dr. Leung’s research program has focused on the hormonal determinants of women’s reproductive health and disease, especially on the autocrine and panacrine regulation of ovarian and placental cell function. He was the first to clone and characterize the gene encoding the human gonadotropin releasing hormone receptor, which is a key regulator of the reproductive system, and he was among the first to propose the concept that the two isoforms of the hormone in humans play an important role not only in pituitary gonadotropin secretion but also in other reproductive tissues including ovaries, ovarian cancer and placentas. He has written more than 350 papers, 340 abstracts, five books and 20 book chapters.

Dr. Paul Romanson, DDS’72
Alumni of Distinction - Dentistry
In 1981, Dr. Paul Romanson began teaching dentistry students the art and science of dentistry. His commitment to education continues today at Schulich Dentistry, where he serves as an adjunct clinical professor. Throughout his career, Dr. Romanson has played leadership roles in the London & District Dental Society and the Ontario Dental Society. He has also been involved with the Dental Outreach Community Service (DOCS) program which serves the dental needs of disadvantaged and low-income families and individuals. He is a fellow of the International College of Dentistry, The Pierre Fauchard Academy and the American College of Dentists.

Dr. David Spence, BA'65, MD'70
Professional Achievement Award
For more than half a century, Dr. David Spence has been a student and an extraordinary teacher, clinician and researcher at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University. His achievements have changed medical practice for stroke and other vascular diseases around the world and through his clinical practice, he has provided care and support improving the health of tens of thousands of individuals. Dr. Spence’s major research accomplishments include understanding the cause and treatment of hypertension in stroke patients, the effect of blood pressure changes on cerebral hemodynamics, the development of novel imaging technologies for atherosclerosis and genetic research of atherosclerosis. He has developed embolus detection methods using transcranial Doppler to identify the few patients with carotid stenosis who could benefit from carotid interventions. He is recognized as a clinical trialist and has led and participated in more than 50 clinical trials investigating the effects of various therapies for stroke prevention. Dr. Spence has authored or co-authored more than 500 peer-reviewed publications, including 300 scientific articles, 50 editorials and 40 medical books and chapters.

Dr. Shawn Steele, BA’01, DDS’05, JD'13
Young Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry
Dr. Shawn Steele is described as a caring and compassionate dentist, a committed educator, community leader and advocate for social justice in oral health care. After graduating with his dentistry degree in 2005, Shawn continued on a path to pursuing more education while giving back to the community through volunteer roles and as an adjunct professor in dentistry. During this time, he earned a Master of Education and a law degree. He’s well known for his desire to increase access to dental care for the most vulnerable in our community, while working closely to develop a model of dental outreach at Parkwood Institute and the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care. He is credited with changing a long-standing policy of only treating inpatients, so that patients can continue to be treated at these hospital sites as outpatients.