Charles Weijer of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities has been awarded the 2014 Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research. The honour recognizes faculty members with outstanding international reputations for their contributions in research – one of the defining hallmarks of a university. Two prizes are offered annually, one in the area broadly defined as the natural sciences and engineering, one in the social sciences and humanities. This year’s awards ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 6 in Conron Hall.
Charles, a professor in the departments of Philosophy and Medicine, and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics, received his MD from the University of Alberta (1988) and PhD fromMcGill University (1997). He held academic appointments at the University of Toronto and Dalhousie University before joining Western’s faculty in 2005. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with scientists on ethical issues in scientific practice. From 2007–12, Charles co-led a team exploring ethical issues in cluster randomized trials, a special kind of clinical trial in which groups — rather than individuals — are randomized to one treatment or another. In 2012, this group published the Ottawa Statement on the Ethical Design and Conduct of Cluster Randomized Trials, the world’s first ethics guidelines for these trials. Charles is currently working with Adrian Owen on the ethics of functional neuroimaging after serious brain in jury. Their research team brings together neuroscientists, neurologists, social scientists and philosophers to examine how neuroimaging can improve the quality of life of neurologically impaired patients and, in some cases, give them a voice in decisions about their medical care. For his contributions to bioethics, Charles was elected a Fellow of the Hastings Center, the American College of Physicians, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 2008, he co-founded the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and served as the institute’s first director.
Charles will deliver his lecture, “A turn at the masthead: reflections on a career in research ethics”, at the May 6 ceremony.
An animated video and interactive module about Dr. Weijer’s Ethics work on Cluster Randomized Trials is featured on the Rotman Institute website.