Brain Researcher Max Cynader Among UBC members to Receive Canada’s Top Honour

UBC Reports Extras | Dec. 31, 2008

Four members of the UBC community have received appointments to the Order of Canada in recognition of their outstanding achievements and lifetime of service to the country.

Max Cynader, director of the Brain Research Centre at UBC and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, is recognized for his contributions to the field of biomedical research, notably in the study of the brain and visual systems, and for increasing the accessibility of treatments.

Cynader is also Professor of Ophthalmology, and holds the Canada Research Chair in Brain Development at UBC. Cynader’s research has made important contributions to understanding the mechanisms by which early use or misuse of the brain affects its functioning for life.

Professor Emeritus Ross E. Petty specializes in pediatric rheumatology at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, and established the university’s academic program in 1979. He is honoured for his contributions to that field, notably for having established its first formal Canadian academic program at the University of Manitoba in 1976, and for having improved the lives of children afflicted with rheumatic diseases.

Fundraising is now underway to establish an endowed chair named after Petty that will focus on pediatric arthritis and lead research and treatment of childhood rheumatic diseases.

Petty and Cynader have been named members of the order.
Gary Birch, appointed to the rank of Officer, earned his B.A. Sc. in Electrical Engineering at UBC in 1983, and in 1988 received a PhD in Electrical Engineering (Biomedical Signal Processing).

Now an adjunct professor at UBC, Birch is honored for his contributions to the development of the Neil Squire Society, and for his determination and ingenuity in helping Canadians with disabilities to achieve a higher quality of life. The Neil Squire Society develops programs, services and assistive technology for people with physical disabilities.

Tenor Ben Heppner, who studied music at UBC before launching an acclaimed international career, has been elevated to the rank of Companion.

Heppner is lauded for his continued role as a premier musical ambassador for Canada. The Governor General notes he is equally renowned for his generosity of spirit as for his abilities as a tenor. Heppner’s national break came in 1979 when he won the Canadian Broadcasting Company Talent Festival. He has gone on to perform at Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie and the Metropolitan Opera, and has received both Grammy and Juno awards.

Established in 1967, the Order of Canada is the highest honour that Canada can give its citizens for exceptional achievement, merit or service.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, announced 60 new appointments to the Order of Canada on Dec. 30. For details, visit: