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Commemorative award to mark the passing of the Father of evidence-based research, Dr. David Sackett

  • June 15, 2015
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Who was Dr. David Sackett?

A visionary, a mentor and inspiration to many great minds in the medical field, a gifted teacher, a devoted researcher, a creator, an author, a husband, and father to four children, a man of compassion with a convincing and infectious personality. David Sackett was known as a man of varied and valuable accomplishments.

DavidS2Born in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Sackett set a focused course for his education in medicine; training in internal medicine, nephrology and epidemiology. An invitation to join the faculty and to help to lay the foundation for McMaster University’s newly created medical school in 1968 led to Dr. Sackett’s establishment of Canada’s first department of clinical epidemiology. Dr. Sackett was founding Chair of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and continued to teach at McMaster for 26 years. Dr. Sackett was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus.

One of the many great contributions to medicine came when, through clinical trials, Dr. Sackett and his team proved that aspirin helps to prevent heart attacks.

“His influence on the practice of medicine around the world was profound. He changed the way people thought about clinical trials, systematic reviews, medical education, research methods to evaluate new treatments, mentoring clinician-scientists and more”( Collier, 2015). Dr. Sackett also collaborated on a book on clinical epidemiology that became a pillar for study in the field. In total, Dr. Sackett, authored or co-authored twelve books.

As the leading authority on evidence-based research, it was a natural fit when Dr. Sackett eventually accepted an invitation in 1994 to launch the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine in the U.K as founding Director. Ever the medical pioneer, Dr. Sackett also became founding Chair of the Cochrane Collaboration (an organization which promotes evidence-based medicine internationally).

Dr. Sackett retired from clinical practice in 1999 at age 65 and returned to Canada to set up the Trout Research and Education Centre where he conducted research, taught, and wrote articles about clinical trials from his home in Markdale, Ontario. In 2001, Dr. Sackett was named Officer of the Order of Canada and was inducted in to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. In 2005, he was the chosen recipient of the Baxter International Foundation Health Services Research Prize. In 2009, Dr. Sackett was awarded the prestigious Canada Gairdner Wightman award “for his leadership in the fields of clinical epidemiology and evidence-based medicine, which has transformed both clinical research and the practice of medicine.”

With the passing of Dr. Sackett on May 13th, Hamilton Health Sciences would like to recognize the legacy of Dr. Sackett by naming the Research Early Career Award (ECA) after him. The ECA’s are research personnel stipends, awarded annually, that provide protected time for novice investigators to pursue research in their speciality area. “A gesture that is most fitting and deserving to recognize Dr. Sackett’s lifetime contribution and accomplishments in advancing medical sciences and in mentoring several generations of researchers” commented Frank Naus, Vice President of Research.

Taken from Dr. Sackett’s Interview written in 2014/15, “Over the past 46 years, I reckon I have mentored over 300 aspiring academics, some for as little as a year and others for decades. It has been the most fulfilling element of my career”. Dr. Sackett touched ever so many lives and influenced the world of medicine on a global scale. His legacy, will continue to resonate for generations to come.