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Tireless advocate

Scientist recognized for dedication, contributions to genetics research


By Jeff Green

The newest recipient of an award celebrating research leadership is showing no signs of slowing down — despite retiring last year.

Dr. Elizabeth Dicks says she’s “honoured and delighted” to be chosen as the latest recipient of the Marilyn Harvey Award to Recognize the Importance of Research Ethics.

Dr. Elizabeth Dicks
Dr. Elizabeth Dicks
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“I knew and worked with Marilyn Harvey and respected her greatly and now to receive this award provides me personally with such a sense of validation and satisfaction of my 20 years in research it is actually hard to put into words,” Dr. Dicks, a Memorial alumna, told the Gazette.

“I’ve always prided myself on ensuring that any piece of research was well founded on being scientifically sound but, more importantly, was always conducted with a strong basis in ethics.”

A clinical epidemiologist, Dr. Dicks retired last year as director of the Centre for Health Informatics and Analytics with the Translational Personalized Medicine Initiative, a unit within the Faculty of Medicine.

However, she remains active within her faculty and a familiar face to many on the St. John’s campus and the wider research community.

“I have been volunteering with the provincial Health Research Ethics Board for the last decade or longer and, although I’ve just stepped down as a chair, I’m still going to be involved with our ethics department as the chair of the appeals committee.”

The Marilyn Harvey Award to Recognize the Importance of Research Ethics is named for a research nurse who brought forward her concerns regarding research ethics to senior administrators at Memorial.

It was created to recognize individuals who have demonstrated leadership in creating an environment of excellence in their commitment to research ethics.

A lifelong and passionate advocate for ethical health research, Dr. Dicks has made lasting contributions to her field.

“Ethics has allowed me to be a better and stronger scientist.” — Dr. Elizabeth Dicks

Over the course of her varied career, she has been responsible for submitting literally hundreds of applications for ethics approval; worked closely with staff and members of the Health Research Ethics Authority to develop sound policies and procedures; and advocated for the highest standards of ethical research at Memorial. She has also been a voting member with Memorial’s Human Investigation Committee since 2009.

A recipient of national recognition for her work, Dr. Dicks has presented on research ethics to the Kidney Foundation of Canada and the Shad Valley Summer Series.

“This award keeps ethics in the forefront of how to conduct scientific research and ensures the science isn’t just about subjects or numbers, but how to appropriately conduct research and the ethical treatment of our participants, data and our roles as researchers,” Dr. Dicks added.

“Ethics has allowed me to be a better and stronger scientist. I like to think I’ve helped and been helped by our wonderfully dedicated ethics staff and volunteers.”

‘Extraordinary contributions’

Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), praised Dr. Dicks for her commitment to her field.

“For more than 20 years, Dr. Elizabeth Dicks has been a tireless and passionate advocate for high-quality ethical health research,” he said. “She has made extraordinary contributions to research ethics here at Memorial and in our province as a volunteer, staff member and clinical leader. I offer her sincere congratulations on receiving this honour.”

Next round

Nominations for the next round of the Marilyn Harvey Award to Recognize the Importance of Research Ethics are due by 4:30 p.m., on Monday, June 1.

Nominations must be submitted to the Office of the Vice-President (Research)

Please contact your unit’s grants facilitator (or, if the unit has no grants facilitator, the person with signing authority for your unit) to confirm if there are earlier, internal deadlines. These internal deadlines must be factored into the timing of the development and submission of these applications.

More details about the award, including its terms of reference, is available online.

Previous recipients of the award include Dr. Kati Szego, School of Music; Dr. Kathy Hodgkinson, Faculty of Medicine; Dr. Fern Brunger, Faculty of Medicine; and Dr. Larry Felt, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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