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Surgeons backing further research

Surgeons take a moment for a photo with John Jenah, President of the Paul B. Helliwell Foundation, centre. From left: Dr. John Rudan, Director, Clinical Research, Human Mobility Research Centre; Dr. Dan Borschneck, Chair, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery; John Jenah; Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences; Dr. David Pichora, Professor of Surgery and Mechanical Engineering, Paul B. Helliwell Chair in Orthopaedic Research. (Photo by Lars Hagberg)

When Dr. David Pichora became the inaugural holder of the Paul B. Helliwell Chair in Orthopaedic Research, he had the backing of the entire Queen’s Department of Surgery – literally.

Funded through a generous donation from the Paul B. Helliwell Foundation, the Helliwell Chair has set up shop in the Human Mobility Research Centre with the ambitious goal of leading research that will transform the way orthopaedic care is provided. 

“We want to take discoveries that have been proven in the lab and bring them into the operating room,” says Department of Surgery Chief Dr. John Rudan.

Helliwell Foundation President John Jenah says his foundation was impressed with the work being done in the Human Mobility Lab. 

“I’ve seen some of their technology and it is inspiring,” he says. “It’s a worthwhile cause with tremendous potential.”

The Helliwell Foundation isn’t the only one who sees potential in human mobility research. The foundation’s donation was matched dollar for dollar by the surgeons themselves. 

“We have always liked the idea of investing in ourselves,” says Dr. Rudan. About 10 years ago, the surgeons began an internal investment program. To date they have supported their own research to the tune of almost $3 million.

“We want other people to believe in us, and the best demonstration of that is to show that we believe in ourselves,” Dr. Rudan says. The hope, he adds, is that this vote of confidence proves attractive to like-minded donors. “It takes an awful lot of money to do this research, and it’s best if we can find partnerships with people who are also philanthropic in their nature and see the benefits of what we do when we pool our donations together.”

Matching donor funds allows the surgeons to support some of their most important – and most expensive – work. 

“It gives us the flexibility to take ideas that the world hasn’t necessarily embraced yet and create the enabling technologies to take them to the next step,” Dr. Rudan says. “It also allows us to do more with what we’ve got, to do it better and faster so that we can stay on the leading edge.”

In addition to the Helliwell Chair, the surgeons have matched donor funds to help create the Andy and Margaret Bruce Lectureship and the Smith Chair in Surgical Research. Within the Department of Surgery, the Division of Orthopaedics, which contributed $500,000 toward the Helliwell Chair, also matched funds to support the Ashworth Lectureship and the Dr. John Kostuik Fellowship. The Department is currently working to fund two additional chairs in surgical research.