Supporting health through research and education.

Dr. Allan Ronald Biography

Dr. Allan Ronald giving back to research and paying it forward

Photo of Dr. Ronald

Dr. Allan Ronald was born in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba in 1938. He completed his undergraduate education in Science and Medicine at the University of Manitoba in 1961 and pursued his postgraduate education for the next seven years at the Winnipeg General Hospital, University of Maryland Hospital, Institute for Medical Research in Lahore, Pakistan and the University of Washington. This included an Internal Medicine Residency Program, research and clinical experience in infectious diseases, and laboratory training in microbiology.

Since 1968 Dr. Ronald has enjoyed a distinguished career as an educator and as a medical director and researcher. From that year through 1985 he was the Director of Clinical Microbiology and Head of the Section of Infectious Diseases at the University of Manitoba and Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. From 1976 to 1985 he was Chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology.

In 1985 Dr. Ronald went on to become Physician-in-Chief for the Health Sciences Centre and H.E. Sellers Chair in Internal Medicine, a position that he held until 1990.

From 1991 through 1995 Dr. Ronald was Head of Infectious Diseases at St. Boniface Hospital. He has been a full professor at the University of Manitoba since 1976 and in 2000 he was named Professor Emeritus. Dr. Ronald retired from the University of Manitoba in 1999 as the Associate Dean of Research having been cited at least four times over his career for his teaching skills and named Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Initially, Dr. Ronald's principal research interest was the pathogenesis and management of urinary infection. In 1975 when Winnipeg was caught up in an outbreak of chancroid, a sexually transmitted disease that produces painful skin ulcers, Dr. Ronald was provided the opportunity to investigate and control this disease with critically important funding secured through the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation (MMSF). Dr. Greg Hammond, currently the Executive Director of the MMSF, was a trainee with Dr. Ronald at the time and together they performed much of the science that led to eradication of chancroid in Manitoba. The team traced the disease to sex trade workers who were not seeking treatment from their physicians.

"Once we realized the cause of the outbreak, we focused on getting the women in for examination and treatment. Once we did that, the epidemic ended within three to four months," explains Dr. Ronald.

Prompted by an article the team had written describing the chancroid outbreak in Winnipeg, the University of Nairobi invited Dr. Ronald in 1978 to advise on control of the same disease in Kenya. That trip would be the first of 70 over the next 30 years for the Manitoba native. Three years later he founded the University of Manitoba/University of Nairobi World Health Organization Research and Training Program in Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

"What we learned in Winnipeg proved to be true everywhere," Dr. Ronald says of the chancroid story.

A talented administrator and leader, Dr. Ronald helped establish a clinical specialty in infectious diseases in Canada by training over 75 physicians in the infectious disease unit at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine. He headed the Department of Internal Medicine, served as the Faculty of Medicine's Associate Dean of Research and developed a comprehensive HIV/AIDS Care and Prevention program which went on to garner him worldwide recognition.

With his wife he moved to Uganda 2002 for three years to lay the groundwork for the Makerere University Institute of Infectious Diseases. When asked about his interest in Africa Dr. Ronald said, "Once you get there, you fall in love with it. There was a real opportunity to take my skills and knowledge and see them flourish in that environment. We trained many Kenyans and Ugandans to become better clinicians, better scientists and, I hope, better managers and leaders."

Dr. Ronald is the recipient of awards from, among others, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Association of Professors of Medicine and the American Venereal Disease Association. In 2006 Dr. Ronald received the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award and became Scientific Director of the National Collaborating Centre on Infectious Diseases. However, it was in 2003 that the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) presented him with its highest honour, the F.N.G. Starr Award. First given in 1936 to Sir Frederick Banting, Dr. Charles Best and Dr. James Collip, this medal represents the highest award that the CMA can bestow upon one of its members in recognition of outstanding achievement.

"The Starr award is an unexpected but much appreciated capstone for a career," says Dr. Ronald. "I'm particularly honoured to be recognized by my colleagues in medicine and to join a group of very distinguished individuals who have received this award," says Dr. Ronald.

The most recent honour bestowed upon Dr. Ronald was being inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2010 under the category of Builder (Innovative Leadership).

Dr. Ronald has a rich history with the MMSF. He was a member of the Board from 1992 through 2002 and returned as a director in 2008, helping to ensure that the next generation of great minds in research gets all the opportunity it needs. Like Dr. Ronald, you too can give back to research by becoming a mentor and paying it forward.

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