Calgary Jewish Free Press Article: "Friends Of Hebrew U. Honour Harley Hotchkiss"

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May 6, 2011 - Calgary - One of Calgary’s most public-minded citizens was honoured at a special ceremony on April 27 at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel as Harley Hotchkiss was named the first recipient of the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada Award (IMRIC) for making a significant impact in the field of medical research.

Harley Hotchkiss Receiving AwardHe was presented the award by Nathan Lindenberg, national president of Canadian Friends of Hebrew University. Joining the two on stage was Rick Hansen, a paraplegic athlete who was also celebrating the 25th anniversary of his world famous Man In Motion tour, which focused attention on the critical issue of spinal cord injuries.

For Hotchkiss, the IMRIC award was in recognition of his philanthropic leadership in establishing the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary in 2004. The Israel connection lies in the fact that Hebrew University in Jerusalem is now linked in a collaborative research agreement with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the U of C. Both centres are lead by world class scientists and clinicians. The team in Israel is led by Dr. Ahron Lev-Tov while the Calgary group is led by Dr. Samuel Weiss. The two institutes in Jerusalem and Calgary share research about the working of the spinal cord with a view to improving acute care and rehabilitation for those who suffer from catastrophic injuries to the spinal cord.

A big part of the research now focuses on the idea that the spinal cord is more than a biological cable to send signals from the brain; that it is at least partly a lower-level form of brain itself that works partially independently. Unlocking these connections, it is believed, will improve the outlook for people who suffer all their lives from spinal cord injuries.

Rick Hansen, who suffered a broken back in an automobile accident when he was 16-years-old, said he was told at the time of his injury that he would probably never get out of bed again. Instead, through his own perseverance and the skill of those treating him, he was able several years later to become an Olympic wheel chair athlete and then stunned the world by successfully completing a 40,000 kilometre wheelchair voyage around the world.

Harley Hotchkiss, a veteran oil man, has received many honours in his life. He is perhaps best known for bringing the NHL Flames to Calgary and has served as chairman and as governor of the National Hockey League for many years before being named to Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada, a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, holds several honorary degrees as well as professional and business awards.

Besides hockey, his other love clearly is medical research. He is past chairman of Foothills Hospital board and the Board of Trustees of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research.

As Dr. Samuel Weiss, director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute told the Calgary Herald, the IMRIC award is important in recognizing “everything [Hotchkiss] has done for health,health research and not just for the community locally, but throughout the world.”

The gala in honour of Harley Hotchkiss also marks an important step in an on going fund-raising campaign for the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University. The organization is raising tens of millions of dollars to promote research collaborations between Israel’s top university and appropriate research institutes in Canada. In addition to the protocol between Hebrew U and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute of the University of Calgary, similar agreements have been established with the University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Manitoba and McGill University.

The event at the Fairmont Palliser featured Calgary Flames President Ken King as master of ceremonies, performances by Israeli tenor Yevgeni Shapovalov, and hors d’ouvres by Ariel Porat, master Chef of the Dan Hotel Chain in Israel.

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CFHU is dedicated to supporting IMRIC through direct funding and by developing key collaborative medical research partnerships between Canada
and Israel.
www.imric.org

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