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Trailblazing pain pioneer Ronald Melzack to be inducted into Medical Hall of Fame
Date:11/10/2008

This release is available in French.

Dr. Ronald Melzack O.C., a McGill University psychologist who revolutionized the study and treatment of pain from the 1960s onward, has been inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. He and his four fellow 2009 inductees from across Canada join 71 existing Hall of Fame laureates who "brought distinction to Canada through their outstanding contributions to medical science and the improved health and well-being of people everywhere."

Melzack was born in 1929 and grew up in a working-class district of Montreal. The only member of his family to attend university, he studied psychology at McGill under the great Dr. Donald Hebb and obtained his PhD in 1954. He became interested in the puzzle of pain at the University of Oregon after an encounter with a woman whose leg had been amputated but who still experienced terrible "phantom pain" in the missing limb.

Several years later, at MIT, he began to collaborate with Dr. Patrick Wall, who was interested in the same phenomenon. Their historic partnership led to the 1965 publication of the revolutionary Gate Control Theory of Pain, which overturned the then-accepted view of pain as a primitive, unchanging "warning system" that the body is in danger. Instead, Melzack and Wall theorized that psychological factors and environment play a large role, and that pain is subjective and ultimately at the mercy of the brain.

Melzack returned to McGill and developed one of the most powerful pain research tools in use today: the McGill Pain Questionnaire, which allows patients to precisely pinpoint the type and degree of pain they are experiencing. The questionnaire has since been translated into 20 languages and is accepted as a standard worldwide. Melzack was also the co-founder of the first pain clinics in Canada at the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1972, and t
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Contact: Mark Shainblum
mark.shainblum@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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