A 42-year-old Indian-origin scientist has been named this year’s recipient of a prestigious Canadian award that recognizes excellence in complementary and alternative medicine.
Sunita Vohra, director of Canada’s first academic pediatric integrative at the University of Alberta medicine program was named the winner of the $250,000 Dr. Rogers Prize at a gala dinner in Vancouver on Thursday, the Vancouver Sun reported.
The Dr. Rogers Prize carries the largest cash prize of its kind in North America.
“It is overwhelming, about being chosen as this year’s recipient,” the report quoted Vohra as saying.
“It is a huge honour. I have not had enough time to digest it. It’s incredible and humbling at the same time,” she said.
Clinician scientist Vohra said that she didn’t have specific plans for the money other than she would use it to help get the kind of research she does out of books and into policy that makes changes in the world.
Vohra said since childhood she wanted to be a physician because her grandfather was a doctor but never thought of taking up medicine as a career.
Initially, Vohra decided to take up pediatrics but then she got interested in clinical science when she was doing her specialty training in pharmacology at a hospital for sick children in Canada’s financial capital Toronto as well as an advanced research degree in clinical epidemiology at McMaster University in Hamilton.
She learnt how little traditional medicine knew about the therapies being used to treat children.
Vohra said she was evaluating the effectiveness of pediatric integrative medicine alongside traditional care at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
She said she wanted to explore alternative and complementary therapies which were extremely popular in Canada.
“I think that therapies are along a continuum,” Vohra said.
“I think that patients make choices around therapies that interest them and the things they’re willing to take. I think that conversation with their healthcare provider can be inclusive around all their health care providers.”
The $250,000 Dr. Rogers Prize for Excellence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine is awarded every two years to celebrate the achievements of researchers, practitioners and others in the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) healthcare. The award was initiated in 2007.
The prize is funded by the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation in Vancouver.