Friday, June 22, 2012

Dr. Robert Thirsk Appointed in New Position of Vice-President, Public, Government and Institute Affairs at CIHR

The physician, engineer and former Canadian Space Agency Astronaut brings a wealth of knowledge, as well as experience to his new post

OTTAWA, June 21, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Robert Thirsk to the position of Vice-President, Public, Government and Institute Affairs effective Monday, August 13, 2012.

Dr. Thirsk holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Calgary and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a Doctorate of Medicine from McGill University, and a Master of Business Administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He was selected for the Canadian Astronaut Program in 1983 and has flown on two space missions as a member of the Canadian Space Agency's astronaut corps.

Dr. Thirsk served as crew commander of two space mission simulations, including an eleven day undersea mission off of Key Largo, Florida. In 1996, he flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia with six international crewmates as part of the Life and Microgravity Spacelab Mission. This 17-day mission was devoted to the study of life and materials sciences, including experiments that investigated changes in plants, animals and humans under space flight conditions. In 2009, he launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and became the first Canadian astronaut to complete a long duration expedition aboard the International Space Station. As a member of the ISS Expedition 20/21 crew, he and his international crewmates performed multidisciplinary research, robotic operations, maintenance and repair work of Station systems and payloads. During his career, Dr. Thirsk has performed hundreds of medical and scientific experiments resulting in an impressive publication record.

"We are honoured to welcome Dr. Thirsk to the CIHR leadership team," said Dr. Beaudet. "Throughout his career, Dr. Thirsk has been a pioneer, an inspiration and a role model to Canadians of all ages by encouraging them to follow their dreams, and instilling in them the importance of scientific research. His strengths and proven leadership make him the ideal candidate to lead our new stakeholder engagement and external relations efforts with public and private sector partners."

In the newly created position of Vice-President, Public, Government and Institute Affairs, Dr. Thirsk will provide CIHR with expert advice on all matters related to strategic relations, public and private sector partnerships, communication and public outreach. In this role, he will also be a key player in supporting the Institutes to fulfill their respective mandates. He will ensure that CIHR's strategic relations and partnerships promote the advancement of health research and the strengthening of our health care system. Finally, as a member of Science Council, he will participate in the development, implementation, and evaluation of CIHR's research and knowledge translation strategies.

Dr. Thirsk, a native of New Westminster, British Columbia, will receive the 2012 Order of British Columbia in September.

About the Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

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