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Six Honorary Fellowships awarded by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Welcoming six new Honorary Fellows

Six Honorary Fellows were admitted to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on the evening of Friday 18 October 2019 as part of this year’s St Luke's Symposium.

Honorary Fellowship is the highest honour the College can bestow. Introduced in the early 1700s, Honorary Fellowship of RCPI is only awarded to world leaders in medical science, the arts and philanthropy or those who have made an exceptional contribution to society. Unlike Fellows and Members, Honorary Fellows are not necessarily medically qualified.

The Honorary Fellowships have been awarded to five doctors and a historian who have been outstanding in their fields:

  • Professor James Donovan Best, Dean at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore
  • Dr Françoise Chagnon, Past President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • Dr Ian Bowmer, Executive Director of the Medical Council of Canada and president-elect of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • Professor Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • Professor Mark Lane, President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Professor Greta Jones, Emeritus Professor of History at Ulster University and co-founder of the Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland (CHOMI)

Learn more about our new Honorary Fellows

Professor James Donovan Best

Professor James Donovan is a distinguished clinician and researcher who is currently Dean at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore. He was Head of the Melbourne Medical School from 2007-2014. In 2014, he took up his current position as Dean of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCSOM) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, a new medical school in one of the world’s fastest rising Universities in global stature. LKCSOM has rapidly distinguished itself through its innovative educational methods and through the rapid development of its research capabilities, led by Prof Best.

He has played a leadership role in his own personal career in endocrinology through his work in diabetes and metabolism leading to the discovery of the GLUT 12 glucose transporter and through his studies on cardiovascular risk in the diabetic population. He has demonstrated research leadership as Chairman of the Research Committee of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council from 2006-2012 and his current membership of numerous research boards in Singapore.

"I am honoured and deeply appreciative to be receiving Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. In my current role as Dean of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore, I have been keen to strengthen our links with Irish Medical Schools and between Singapore and Ireland. This special connection with fellow physicians in Ireland will facilitate ongoing collaborations in both education and research. I am sure the award also acknowledges the contribution others have made to the relationship.

Like many Australians, most of my heritage is Irish, particularly on my mother’s side, giving this Fellowship particular significance. I am very grateful to those who have made this occasion possible and am delighted to join in fellowship with colleagues in the College," Prof Best said.

Dr Françoise Chagnon

Dr Françoise Chagnon is Past President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She is a cervico-facial surgeon and an ear, nose and throat specialist. She has an expertise in vocal disorders related to the performing arts. Dr. Chagnon serves as a medical expert and independant medical evaluator in her field.

She is also a former member of the Canadian Medical Association’s Committee on Health Policy and Economics. Dr. Chagnon currently holds appointments at the McGill University Health Centre, St. Mary’s Hospital Center, the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal and is a consultant at the Axio Health Group. She is director of l’Association d’Hospitalisation Canassurance (Blue Cross), Secretary of the board of directors of Lallemand Inc. and President of Vocalex Inc.

Dr Ian Bowmer

Dr Ian Bowmer is President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He has been the Executive Director of the Medical Council of Canada for eleven years. An internist, infectious disease specialist and HIV researcher and care provider, he is the former Dean of Medicine and Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

A former member of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, Dr. Bowmer chaired many advisory committees in Newfoundland and Labrador including the Infectious Disease Advisory Committee and testified along with provincial government at the Kreaver Commission. He was a member of the NL provincial commission that studied physician abuse of patients, the committee on advanced directives and chaired the NL Commission studying provincial preparedness post SARS. He also chaired the CFPC-Health Canada Expert Committee to develop a Guide on the Treatment of HIV in Adults and Adolescents and is recognised as a leader in HIV care and research. Dr Bowmer is the recipient of several honours, including Canada’s 125th Confederation Medal.

Dr Bowmer highlighted the 'strong connection' between Newfoundland and Ireland,

"I am deeply honoured that RCPI  is admitting me to an Honourary Fellowship. As someone who has practiced most of my career in Newfoundland, I know the strong medical connection our province has had with Ireland and the high quality of physician we have enjoyed as colleagues over the years. I very much appreciate and am humbled by this recognition," Dr Bowmer said.

Professor Jackie Taylor

Professor Jackie Taylor is President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. She has a major interest in training and education of healthcare professionals and a a sub-specialty interest in heart failure. She is an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer and was awarded an Honorary Professorship of University of Glasgow in 2018. She is immediate past Chair of the British Geriatrics Society Cardiovascular Section. Professor Taylor’s other main professional roles have been as Vice President Medical and Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and became President in December 2018.

I am delighted to have been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of RCPI. It is indeed an enormous privilege. Our Colleges share the same concerns and priorities and I look forward to further strengthening the bonds between us,” Prof Taylor said.

Professor Mark Lane

Professor Mark Lane is President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Within the College he has held various roles including Chair of the Specialist Advisory Committee for Gastroenterology in New Zealand, Chair of the Specialties Board and more recently Chair of the New Zealand Adult Medicine Division Committee.

His subspecialty interests include inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease, colon cancer screening and therapeutic endoscopy. Other roles held previously include Secretary and President of the New Zealand Society of Gastroenterology.
He has been a patron of the Coeliac Society of New Zealand and on the board of Crohns and Colitis New Zealand.

On his achievement, Prof Lane said,

"The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has a long and close association with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.  At the garden party commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Royal College of Physicians in London last year, I was delighted when Professor Horgan invited me to the St Luke’s Symposium.  To be awarded Hon Fellowship of the prestigious Irish College during my trip to Dublin is a great personal privilege and an honour."

Professor Greta Jones

Greta Jones is Professor Emeritus at the Ulster University, where she has lectured in history for over 30 years. Her expertise and publications range from work on the nineteenth century history of ideas, the history of Darwinism, scientific institutions to the history of medicine, particularly with respect to Ireland. Professor Jones has pioneered the study of history of medicine in Ireland which has included work on tuberculosis, medical emigration, medical education, family planning and the impact of the Troubles on medical professionals.

Professor Jones was the co-director with Dr Catherine Cox of the Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland (CHOMI), jointly based in Ulster University and University College Dublin. Prof Jones and Dr Cox received a substantial Wellcome Trust grant to establish CHOMI.

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