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UBC scientist honored with BMJ's Junior Doctor of the Year Award

HIV/AIDS researcher lauded for leadership on harm reduction and work on HIV, public health and addiction

March 11, 2010 - BMJ Group, publisher of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), has recognized University of British Columbia Clinical Associate Prof. Evan Wood with its first annual Junior Doctor of the Year honour.

Wood, a lead researcher at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), was selected from more than 100 nominations from Britain, Sudan, Iraq, Australia and Brazil for his research in and contribution to HIV, public health, illicit drug policy and addiction. The award is given to a physician who is early in their career and has done the most to improve the world we live in or to inspire others.

As co-director of the BC-CfE's Urban Health Research Initiative (UHRI), Wood has early in his career established himself as a leading international authority on evidence-based approaches to addressing HIV among drug-addicted populations. Wood obtained his PhD in epidemiology studying the HIV epidemic in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and authored more than 200 publications before the age of 30, including groundbreaking articles in leading medical journals such as BMJ, the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wood helped establish the UHRI and has received the Peter Lougheed Award as Canada's top-ranked new investigator by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He is one of the founding principal investigators of Vancouver's Insite, North America's only supervised injecting facility. His scientific and peer-reviewed evaluations of Insite have demonstrated that the program reduces overdose deaths, lowers HIV transmission rates, and increases uptake into addiction treatment. He now serves on the editorial boards of a host of infectious disease and addiction journals and is the associate editor of the International Journal of Drug Policy.

"I am honoured to accept this award on behalf of the people I work with at the BC-CfE, St. Paul's Hospital and UBC," said Dr. Wood. "BMJ Group recognizes the important role that research and science can play in shaping society's response to the illicit drug problem and related concerns. I am humbled by this recognition and would like to thank the colleagues I am honored to work with, the fantastic team of graduate students I am fortunate to supervise, and the participants in our research, who give willingly of their time and experiences."

While Dr. Wood has made key contributions to HIV treatment guidelines, his research into HIV prevention strategies for injection drug users has received international recognition. Dr. Wood is one of the founding principal investigators of Vancouver's Insite, North America's only supervised injecting facility. His scientific and peer-reviewed evaluations of Insite have demonstrated that the program reduces overdose deaths, lowers HIV transmission rates, and increases uptake into addiction treatment.

"Dr. Wood's passion for medicine and public health is evident in all the work that he does and the challenges that he takes on," said Dr. Julio Montaner, Director, BC-CfE. "He has tackled controversial subjects such as drug addiction with scientific rigour, and has often taken unpopular but scientifically sound positions on hot-button issues."

"Dr. Wood has made an exceptional contribution to improving healthcare by using the scientific results of his peer-reviewed research to elevate addiction, drug policy and diseases such as HIV to public health issues rather than criminal justice issues," said Dr. Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief of the BMJ.

"Dr. Wood's work in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and on facilities such as Insite illustrates the benefits of pursuing innovative and evidence-based approaches to improving treatment for addiction and diseases such as HIV and AIDS," said John Hepburn, UBC Vice-President Research & International.

"UBC is proud to support dedicated and respected researchers such as Dr. Wood who advance knowledge and challenge conventional thinking in these areas."

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CONTACT:

Brian Lin
brian.lin@ubc.ca
Phone: 604-822-2234
University of British Columbia

Reproduced with permission - "University of British Columbia"

University of British Columbia
www.ubc.ca


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