It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of Dr. John Cairns on March 1st, 2018.
Dr. Cairns is a Professor of Medicine in the UBC Division of Cardiology. As one of Canada’s most distinguished health researchers and former Dean of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, he has made landmark contributions to the medical and academic communities nationally and internationally. Amongst the many high impact research discoveries Dr. Cairns has made in his career, his signature research work focused on the understanding of mechanisms, treatment, and prevention of acute coronary syndrome, the role and impact of aspirin for prevention of myocardial infarction in patients with unstable angina, the improvement of outcomes of patients who have sustained a myocardial infarction, the assessment of risk factors for stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation, and the use of warfarin for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation. He has published over 200 original articles in journals of the highest impact, numerous book chapters, and he co-edited the Blackwell textbook, “Evidence-Based Cardiology” (1998, 2002 and 2008). He has been a principal investigator of multiple major clinical trials which have been published in New England Journal of Medicine, Circulation, Journal of American College of Cardiology, Lancet, and the British Medical Journal, to name a few. He has led or participated in the development of clinical practice guidelines in Canada and North America for treatment and prevention of various cardiac conditions. Dr. Cairns co-led the Canadian Network and Centre for Trials Internationally (CANNeCTIN), a collaborative national network and coordinating centre, jointly funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canada Foundation for Innovation (2008-13, $20M), aimed at facilitating multi-centre studies in cardiovascular disease and diabetes. He has chaired or been a member of a number of steering committees for numerous major clinical trials. Dr. Cairns’ research excellence has been recognized by his numerous visiting professorships. He has elected fellowships in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of London, and the American College of Cardiology. He is also a member of the International Society for Heart Research. In 2012 Dr. Cairns was awarded the Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize, one of most prestigious honours bestowed by UBC. The Margolese Prize is awarded to outstanding researchers focused on improving the lives of individuals with heart disease.
As Dean of Medicine at the University of British Columbia from 1996 to 2003, Dr. Cairns led efforts to double the enrolment of medical students and residents and substantially expand facilities including the UBC Life Sciences Centre, the Diamond Centre at VGH and at University of Victoria (Island Medical Program), University of Northern BC (Northern Medical Program) and UBC Okanagan (Southern Medical Program). By 2002 the UBC Faculty of Medicine was in second place among its Canadian counterparts in total research funding and now has the second largest medical student enrollment. He was also instrumental in the successful accreditation of the UBC medical school in 2011 as Chair of the Self Study Task Force. He led a task force designed to enhance research productivity in the UBC Department of Medicine in 2008-2010. He redesigned and invigorated the mentoring program for early career faculty in the Department of Medicine, and has mentored a number of faculty members himself. He has been an absolutely essential member of the department’s promotions and tenure committee for years. He was a member of the faculty team charged with developing the renewed MD Undergraduate curriculum beginning in 2014 and was co-lead of Medd 411 (the first 16 weeks of year 1 from 2015-18). He was actively involved in teaching both medical students and residents.
Dr. Cairns has provided academic leadership in numerous ways throughout his career. He was the President of the Canadian Association of Professors of Medicine (1995-1996), President of the Canadian Association of Medical Colleges of Canada (2000-2002), and has served in executive positions with the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the Association of Canadian Academic Health Organizations, the CSCI, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. From 2015 until 2017 he was president of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the most prestigious organization for health sciences academics in Canada.
In 2014 Dr. Cairns was awarded the Order of British Columbia. The Order of British Columbia recognizes individuals who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in their field of endeavour benefiting the people of the Province or elsewhere, and represents the highest form of recognition the Province can extend to its citizens.
On behalf of the Department of Medicine, we wish to extend our utmost gratitude to Dr. Cairns for his decades of service to the university and to our department; for his exemplary leadership in academic medicine; and for his research contributions that have an everlasting impact on medicine. We feel very honoured to have had such a distinguished colleague and role model in our department. Please join us in wishing Dr. Cairns the very best in his retirement.