Founded in 2007, the Dr. Rogers Prize for Excellence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine is awarded every two years to celebrate the achievements of researchers, practitioners and others in the field of complementary and alternative (CAM) health care. At $250,000, it is the largest prize of its kind.
Open to individuals whose complementary, alternative or integrative medicine activities are carried out in Canada, Dr. Rogers Prize recipients embody the vision, leadership and integrity as that of Dr. Roger Hayward Rogers for whom the award is named. A Canadian physician and pioneer in the field of CAM, Dr. Rogers was among the first to provide non-traditional therapies for cancer patients. He was appointed to the Order of British Columbia in 2001 in recognition of his groundbreaking care.
Many treatments and practices that we now consider to be commonplace – even common sense – have historically faced opposition and resistance. Initially considered preposterous, their proponents were often ridiculed and their work rejected by the mainstream medical community.
- In 1846, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis documented that the practice of hand washing by doctors drastically reduced the mortality rate in obstetrics wards. His observations conflicted with the established scientific opinion and his work was dismissed as superstitious. Semmelweis's practice earned widespread acceptance years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory of disease.
- In 1983, Drs. Barry Marshall & Robin Warren proved that Helicobacter pylori bacteria were responsible for stomach ulcers. This flew in the face of accepted wisdom that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy food and stomach acid. Their discovery was ridiculed as everyone knew that bacteria could not survive in the acidic environment of the gut. Dr. Marshall eventually proved their theory by ingesting the bacteria himself and developing ulcers, which he subsequently cured with antibiotics. In 2005, Drs. Marshall & Warren won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this work.
Dr. Rogers cared for people with cancer who had been told that there were no further treatment options available to them and that they should put their affairs in order. His approach focused on stimulating the immune system to recognize and fight the cancer. He provided these therapies despite a lack of established evidence, because he firmly believed that patients should have the 'right to try before they die'. Dr. Rogers challenged conventional thinking and dared to step outside the comfort of accepted practice in order to explore treatment possibilities for those who had been relegated to palliative care. The idea of harnessing the immune system to fight cancer is now known as Immuno-Oncology and is often described as the "fifth arm of cancer treatment."
Learn more about Dr. Rogers and his commitment to integrated healing in this brief video.