McKenna Lecturer Award

mckenna lecture


Dr. Richard D. McKenna was an outstanding clinician, scientist and humanitarian whose enthusiasm and knowledge drove the establishment of the CAG. To honour him, the CAG each year selects an individual who has made significant contributions to gastrointestinal medicine and/or science to give the Richard D. McKenna Memorial Lecture. This award is the highest honour the CAG bestows. The lecture is the highlight of the opening of Canadian Digestive Diseases Week™ (CDDW™).

2024 Award Recipient

Hashem B. El-Serag, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Richard D. McKenna Bio

Dr. Richard D. McKenna was born on August 30, 1911. He received his B.A. from the University of Montreal in 1932, and his degree in Medicine from McGill University in 1938. He trained in Internal Medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital from 1938 to 1942, after which time he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force where he attained the rank of Squadron Leader. In 1945 after the war, Dr. McKenna resumed his postgraduate training. He joined the most distinguished training centre for gastroenterology of his time, the Department of Dr. Henry Bockus at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School. He became a Fellow in Internal Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1947, and obtained certification in Gastroenterology from the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Dr. McKenna joined the staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital and McGill University in 1947 and became the Director of the Division of Gastroenterology of the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1956. He was an Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill and held these posts until 1966, when, due to untimely illness, he resigned and retired from active gastroenterology practice.

However, Dr. McKenna could not sit still, and although his doctors advised him not to get involved in strenuous clinical practice he decided on a new career and trained in radiology between 1970 and 1973. He built his new home at the shores of Lake Memphremagog and in 1973 and 1974, in semi-retirement, he carried out part-time radiological practice at the Department of Radiology of the University of Sherbrooke. In 1974 he became ill and after a long illness, died on May 12, 1975.

The R.D. McKenna Lecture of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) was established at the time of his retirement from gastroenterology in 1966. The lecture was renamed the McKenna Memorial Lecture after 1975.

What were the achievements of Dr. McKenna that merited designating after him the only named lecture of the CAG? At home at the Royal Victoria Hospital of Montreal he was an outstanding clinical teacher. He inspired enthusiasm about clinical and experimental gastroenterology in his trainees and published numerous scientific papers at times when few Canadians were active in gastrointestinal research. Because of his contacts with members of the Bockus School and his role as Treasurer of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), Dr. McKenna was able to arrange further training for his fellows and numerous other physicians who expressed interest in this field. Many of his trainees have become leaders in gastroenterology.

As Treasurer Dr. McKenna was deeply involved in the affairs of the AGA, but felt strongly that Canadians should have their own forum in gastroenterology. He established an inter-city journal club and invited staff and trainees to his home, providing a pleasant environment for common study. The group consisted of gastroenterologists from most of the English- and French-speaking hospitals in Montreal, and led to an excellent understanding amongst gastroenterologists of both backgrounds. It is from this journal club that the CAG was born.

After a meeting one evening in his home, Dr. McKenna and Drs. Douglas Kinnear and Ivan Beck started to plan the establishment of the CAG. Dr. McKenna knew many medical and surgical gastroenterologists, and soon after this meeting reported that he had enrolled the support of almost every gastroenterologist and many surgeons across the country. He scheduled a get-together of these individuals at the time of the 1961 Canadian Medical Association meeting and it was at this gathering that the CAG was founded. Dr. McKenna was nominated as the first President and the Association was incorporated in January 1962. Dr. McKenna’s vision for the CAG was always broad. He felt very strongly that the Association would only survive if it were bilingual and included professionals of all disciplines: gastroenterologists, surgeons, radiologists and basic scientists. This philosophy remains at the heart of the CAG to this day.

Previous McKenna/McKenna Memorial Lecturers

Richard D. McKenna was one of the founders of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG), which was incorporated in 1962. The R.D. McKenna Lecture was established at the time of his retirement from gastroenterology in 1966. The lecture was renamed the R. D. McKenna Memorial Lecture after 1975.

2022Douglas Rex
2021Gottumukkala S. Raju
2020Richard Peek
2019Anne Griffiths
2018Roland Valori
2017Sheila Crowe
2016Johan Söderholm
2015Don W. Powell
2014Stephen Hanauer
2013Fergus Shanahan
2012Richard Hunt
2011Loren Laine
2010Eammon Quigley
2009Daniel Podolsky
2008Stephen Collins
2007John Dent
2006Peter B. Cotton
2005Guido Tytgat
2004W. Allan Walker
2003Kim Barrett
2002Joseph Sung
2001Juan R. Malagelada
2000Charles O. Elson
1999Eugene B. Chang
1998Sire Roy Calne
1997Leslie Turnberg
1996Leaonard R. Johnson
1995D. Neil Granger
1994Gilbert A. Castro
1993David Y. Graham
1992Francisco Viradell
1991Wilfred M. Weinstein
1990John K. MacFarlane
1989Claude C. Roy
1988Leslie S. Valberg
1987R. Hermon Dowling
1986Martin C. Carey
1985John M. Dietschy
1984Thomas R. Hendrix
1983Henri Bismuth
1982Philip P. Toskes
1981Ivan T. Beck
1980JJ Bernier
1979Alan F. Hofmann
1978Howard M. Spiro
1977Rene Menguy
1976Henri Sarles
1975William Summerskill
1974Kurt J. Isselbacher
1973Irwin M. Arias
1972Shelia Sherlock
1972Andrew W. Kay
1971Franz J. Ingelfinger
1970George A. Hallenback
1969Morton I. Grossman