Fascinated by “how thing work in the body,”(1) Connie Halperin of Kingston, Ontario, set out early on a career in biomedical research that has spanned more than three decades. Now Connie Eaves, deputy director of the Terry Fox Laboratory and professor of medical genetics at the University of British Columbia, she is at the peak of cancer research in Canada and is recognized internationally as an expert on blood formation, particularly the behaviour of the blood-forming system. She and her husband Allen form a close-knit professional team with many contributions to the broad fields of bone marrow transplantation, leukaemia and gene therapy. Connie believes that the challenge and opportunities for the next three decades will likely be even greater than those of the past. “Women of the next century will play a much more vibrant and creative role in moving towards these new horizons.”(2)
Connie has also acquired national stature in areas of cancer research policy. She was a strong advocate for development of a Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative and was one of the first two co-chairs to manage the distribution and new research opportunities made possible with the initial $45 million garnered for this effort. Subsequently, as president of of the National Cancer Institute of Canada, she earned a reputation for efforts to raise the profile of research and to increase funding . She is appreciated, both for her professional dedication and for her personable style. Says one colleague, “It’s nice to see a woman in a position of influence…There’s a different perspective brought to the table…especially…with something as important to people’s emotional life as cancer.”(3)
Realizing that, for her, professional satisfaction comes with new discoveries and insights, Connie is a self-confessed workaholic, but happily so. Her occasional escapes are now mainly in gardening – appreciating growth outside the lab. However, for many years, raising four now-aft and independent-minded children also provided many lessons and rewards.
“I am happy that my daughters (and sons) will be able to take advantage of the increased general respect and sensitivity for what women can offer society. Our youth are such a rich resource; no barriers should diminish their ability to contribute and fulfil their dreams.”
Thanks to Tara Palmater, Vancouver for assistance in preparation of this page.
Eaves, Connie. Correspondence with SWCC, November-December 1998.
Wigod, Rebecca. “Drawing battle lines in cancer war.” The Vancouver Sun, 15 March 1997, H14, H16.
2. Wigod, H14.