F. Clarke Fraser Award for Excellence in Mentorship and Teaching

This newly instituted award is to recognize a CCMG member who has made significant contributions as a mentor and/or teacher over the course of their career. More information is available here. It will be presented during the CCMG Scientific Meeting, as a tribute to Dr. F. Clarke Fraser who passed away in 2014.

Dr. F. Clarke Fraser (1920-2014) was Canada’s first Medical Geneticist.  His initial plan to be a family doctor was derailed in 1937 by two lectures in Genetics at Acadia University.  He went on to get a PhD in Genetics, followed by his MD in 1950.  He described his early career as a “castaway on a desert island without a map”, as he was permitted to fulfil his internship requirements by starting the Division of Human Genetics in the Department of Paediatrics at McGill University. Dr. Fraser’s demonstration that cleft palate could be induced in mice prenatally exposed to cortisone was a pioneering discovery that led to the birth of the field of Teratology, and from which the Multifactorial Threshold Model was developed.  He was a dedicated and passionate teacher, and a compassionate and generous mentor and role model, who is credited as the father of Genetic Counselling.

Dr. Fraser received numerous awards and widespread recognition for his work, including Officer of the Order of Canada, ASHG Award for Excellence in Education, le Prix du Quebec Wilder-Penfield, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and several honorary degrees. 

Dr. Fraser was born in Connecticut, and spent most of his childhood in Jamaica, with summers in Bear River, Nova Scotia.  In his autobiographical essay (Of Mice and Children, AJHG Part A (2008); 146A:2179–2202), Dr. Fraser described his father as a quiet and reserved man who loved poetry, and his mother as vivacious, loving and demonstrative.  He talks about impromptu concerts in the parlour, with his father at the piano and his mother singing in her beautiful alto voice.  In 1999, Dr. Fraser returned permanently to his ancestral home in Bear River. He continued a connection to Genetics by assessing journal articles and writing book reviews for journals. He loved music, athletics, his family, and a scotch before dinner. He played rugger until the age of 40, and tennis until 81.  He was precise in his use of spoken and written English, his red pen a match for that of John Opitz.  He had a genuine interest in other people. 

Those closest to Dr. Fraser recall his irrepressible sense of humour and his penchant for composing blank verse (as he did on the occasion of his acceptance speech for the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame).  The final line of his obituary was a quote: “He tried to be good”.   All would agree that what he did for Medical Genetics and Genetic Counselling in Canada was very good indeed. 

Terms of Reference

  1. Nominations for the F. Clarke Fraser Award for Excellence in Mentorship and Teaching will be solicited annually to recognize a CCMG member who has made significant contributions as a Mentor and/or Teacher over the course of their career.
  2. Nominations could come from anyone in the College, but nominations from trainees (past and present) will be strongly encouraged.  To this end, a special email blast will be directed at current trainees and trainees who completed their training in the preceding two years.  
  3. Nominations will be solicited at the same time as those for the John L. Hamerton and Founders awards.
  4. The Awards and Nominations Committee reserves the right not to present the Award if there is no suitable nominee that year.
  5. In the event of more than one nomination, the remaining nominees may be considered along with new applications in subsequent year(s).
  6. The recipient of the award will be announced at the AGM.  The recipient will not be required to pay the fees for conference registration and Founder’s dinner. 
  7. If deemed appropriate by the scientific committee, a trainee/mentor event (such as a breakfast or other) or some other session, where the awardee would give a presentation, may be arranged.  Under these circumstances, other costs would be provided (as a speaker).

2018 Recipient

It is our pleasure to announce the nomination of Dr. Jan Friedman as the recipient of the second F. Clarke Fraser Award for Excellence Mentorship and Teaching. 

Dr. Friedman is a long time respected CCMG member and past president. Knowing all of his clinical, academic and administrative achievements, it will come as no surprise to anyone that CCMG members he mentored have enthusiastically forwarded his name for nomination this year, in recognition of his exceptional teaching and mentoring skills. The department of Medical Genetics in Vancouver grew to international prominence in part because of his selfless support for trainees and junior faculty. Dr. Friedman will be honored at the opening session on the evening of Sunday June 10, where he will give a presentation, followed by the welcome reception where colleagues and past mentees can congratulate Dr. Friedman in person.