Québec, August 12, 2009 -- On August 19, Dr. Michel G. Bergeron, director of the Centre de recherche en infectiologie (CRI) of Laval University, will receive the 2009 Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) Medal of Service. This medal is being presented in recognition of Dr. Bergeron's outstanding contribution to the medical profession, medical and research organizations, the Canadian health care system, and the well-being of patients around the world.
The CMA Medal of Service is awarded to an individual who has made an exceptional and outstanding contribution to the advancement of health care in Canada. Dr. Bergeron is an internationally renowned clinical researcher and specialist in infectious diseases.
"Thanks to Dr. Bergeron's remarkable work, thousands of patients have benefited from an improved quality of life. He has contributed concretely to the prevention and diagnosis of infectious diseases. Dr. Bergeron's accomplishments deserve our admiration," says CMA President Dr. Robert Ouellet.
"I wasn't expecting such an honour. I'm very proud, and I must thank all those who have always believed in me and supported me in my personal life, medical practice and research," says Dr. Bergeron.
After obtaining his medical degree at Laval University in 1968, Michel Bergeron completed his residency in internal medicine at McGill and went on to a research fellowship in infectious diseases at the New England Medical Centre Hospital, Tufts University in Boston. He then returned to his hometown of Québec City. In 1974, he was appointed assistant professor of microbiology at Laval. That same year, he founded the university's laboratory in infectious diseases research, later named Centre de recherche en infectiologie (CRI), which today ranks as the largest infectious disease research centre in Canada. Dr. Bergeron teaches at Laval University and internationally as a visiting professor.
An outstanding career path
Early in his career, Dr. Bergeron focused his research on the treatment of infectious diseases. A direct product of his work is the first-line treatment of severe pyelonephritis with intravenous aminosids, which reduced treatment time from 14 to 3 days.
Over the years, Dr. Bergeron has turned his attention to the development of new preventative approaches to infectious diseases. His main area of interest is increasing the rapidity of microbiological diagnosis using DNA analysis of microbial genes.
With his team at the CRI, Dr. Bergeron developed the first rapid, real-time tests to detect certain disease-causing microbes in less than one hour, instead of the 48 hours usually required.
Keenly interested in the transfer of technology, Dr. Bergeron created Infectio Diagnostic Inc. in 1995, to develop and market rapid diagnostic tests. Today the company, which was acquired by Becton Dickinson & Co. in 2006, employs several hundred people in Québec City and promises continued growth and technological advances.
"My greatest passion and my greatest dream are to discover new technologies and simple and rapid new tests that can be administered at point of care, such as doctors' offices, emergency and intensive care departments, pharmacies and even, one day, in developing countries. This would revolutionize medical practice by making it possible for medical staff to diagnose infectious diseases, in real time, and thus save countless lives," says Dr. Bergeron.
One of Dr. Bergeron's priorities is the fight against HIV-AIDS. SA few years ago, he and his colleagues began work on developing an "Invisible Condom®" or vaginal gel formulation that women could use to protect themselves against AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer. Phase I and II trials have been completed and the product, which is entering the Phase III clinical trial, is of enormous importance to women around the world.
Dr. Bergeron's busy laboratory pursuits have not kept him from being actively involved in Canada's research community, including the:
- Scientific Advisory Board of the Canadian Space Agency and the Global Health Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (committee member)
- Scientific Advisory Board of the Council of Canadian Academies (member)
- Scientific Advisory Board of Infectiopole Sud in France (chair)
- Canadian Association for HIV Research and the Canadian Foundation of Infectious Diseases (co-founder)
- Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation and the Canadian Association of Medical Microbiologists (former chair)
- National Advisory Committee on SARS and the Standing Committee on Sciences and Research of the Medical Research Council of Canada (former member).
Dr. Bergeron's scientific discoveries and involvement have earned him numerous honours, including the:
- Quebec Wilder-Penfield Award
- Order of Quebec
- "Médecins de mérite de l'Actualité Médicale, 20th anniversary" Henry Friesen Award co-sponsored by CSCI and RCPSC
- Laval University award "Grands Diplômés"
- CIHR Synapse award for the CRI's weekly "Researcher for a day" program (introducing high school students to sciences)
- Lifetime Achievement Award of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada
- Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
Dr. Bergeron is the 39th recipient of the CMA Medal of Service. The medal will be presented at a special ceremony, which will take place at TCU Place in Saskatoon during the 142nd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Medical Association.
Dr. Michel G. Bergeron's full biography is available on the CMA website at www.cma.ca.