Friesen, Uchida will be honoured this afternoon at health sciences Convocation


The Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University will hold its annual Spring Convocation ceremony at 2:30 this afternoon (Friday, May 12) at Hamilton Place.

Joining the 250 graduands are honorary doctor of science degree recipients Henry G. Friesen, an internationally known medical scientist and educator, and Irene Uchida, who has gained international recognition during her distinguished career for her work in the field of genetics. Friesen will give the Convocation address.

Henry G. Friesen has had an important impact on Canadian research as president of the Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC). Born in Manitoba, Friesen obtained his B.Sc. (medicine) and his medical degree from the University of Manitoba in 1958. A specialist in endocrinology, he was professor and head of the department of physiology as well as a professor of medicine at the University of Manitoba until 1992. In 1991, he was appointed president of the MRC for a five-year term, and re-appointed for a three-year term in 1996.

Friesen is known for his research and clinical trials into the effectiveness of using human growth hormones to stimulate the growth of very small children in a hormone-deficient state. He discovered the hormone prolactin and developed a blood test to identify patients with tumors that secrete excessive amounts of that hormone. As a result of this work, many people with disorders of reproduction related to prolactin have been successfully treated.

Irene Ayako Uchida received her PhD in 1951 from the University of Toronto. Upon graduation she accepted a position as a research associate at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. During the 1960s, she was director of the department of medical genetics at the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg in Manitoba. From 1969 to 1991, she was a professor of pediatrics and director of the Regional Cytogenetics Laboratory at McMaster.

Uchida has been active on numerous boards and committees, including: The Task Force on the Provision and Standardization of Cytogenetic Services in Ontario (1977); the Cytogenetics Committee of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (1978); the Ontario Ministry of Health's Advisory Committee on Genetic Services (1979-1986); and the Genetic Cell Culture Committee of the Ontario Medical Association's Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program (1978-1992). From 1991 to 1995, she was director of cytogenetics at the Oshawa General Hospital.

Two hundred and fifteen degrees (six PhDs, nine M.Sc.s, 103 MDs, and 97 B.Sc.N.s (nursing) and 35 diplomas (17 occupational health and safety, 10 child life studies, and eight environmental health) will be awarded to graduands.