McMaster University

McMaster University

Barr honoured for contributions to cancer research

Cancer doctor gets prestigious prize

The Hamilton Spectator
December 9, 2009
By Daniel Nolan

A local doctor who has an international reputation in the treatment of childhood cancer has won a prestigious prize from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Dr. Ronald Barr, 66, is the 2009 recipient of the O. Harold Warwick prize, which is presented to a scientist who has had a major impact on cancer control in Canada.

He is the 17th recipient of the prize.

Barr, known by many as Ronnie, receives $2,000 for himself and $20,000 to put toward research.

"I think it's wonderful," Barr said last night at the award presentation at McMaster University, where he has been working since 1977.

"It was totally unexpected. Almost all of these awards are made to adult hematologists or oncologists. It's very unusual for it to come to someone who practises pediatric oncology, so I'm thrilled."

Barr is a native of Scotland, father of two and professor of pediatrics, pathology and medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Glasgow and spent his first years in medicine in the mid-1960s helping establish the first medical school in Kenya.

He returned to Scotland and joined the faculty of the University of Aberdeen before moving to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.

He is one of the editors of the first definitive document of incidence, survival and mortality of 15- to 29-year-olds with malignant disease and also co-edited the first textbook of cancer in adolescents and young adults. He also works with researchers in Europe and the United States helping partners deal with childhood cancer in seven Central American countries.

Barr said he will use the $20,000 on the study of nutrition and its impact on children with cancer and to develop a program for people between 15 and 24 who have cancer. The latter program is being developed in partnership with the Juravinski Cancer Centre.

Although he is at retirement age, Barr said he has no plans to leave his field and jokes he will "probably one day just fall over and someone will say, 'What the hell happened to him?' "

"It's a buzz making sick kids well," he said. "It's a buzz creating new knowledge ... I couldn't give it up. It's an addiction."

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