Evan Wood, PhD’03

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a positive outlook. A rejection letter on the first attempt to get into UBC Medical School didn’t stop Dr. Evan Wood from accomplishing a myriad of undertakings. With a positive attitude on the turn of events, he calls the rejection a “blessing… as [he] was then recruited to stay at UBC as an assistant professor and received a large grant from the US National Institutes of Health to continue doing clinical research while [he] pursued a medical degree in Calgary”.
At the young age of 36, UBC Alumnus (PhD’ 03), Dr. Wood has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, supervised 37 graduate students and sits on editorial board of eight scientific journals. His research work has significantly impacted HIV treatment guidelines, proven the benefits of supervised injection facilities, compelled pharmaceutical companies to offer free antiretrovirals to HIV-positive pregnant mothers in Africa and most recently shown conclusively that offering HIV treatment to injection drug users can reduce HIV incidence at a community level. All of this during the same time he was either a medical student or an internal medicine resident, during which time he was also chief resident at UBC.

Among his many accolades, most recently, Dr. Wood received the inaugural Junior Doctor of the Year Award from the prestigious British Medical Journal. The ever modest Dr. Wood accredits his recognition to the work his teams are doing at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Dr. Wood learned from the best and cites Dr. Julio Montaner and Dr. Robert Hogg as key mentors from his student days, which inevitably influenced his career direction. Once the student, now the teacher, Dr. Wood finds he gets a ‘buzz’ from his student’s success, and enjoys mentoring grad students, medical students and junior residents. Dr. Wood is helping to train the next generation of doctors and researchers so that they can carry on with the uphill battle against HIV & AIDS.

When asked about the future of HIV/AIDS, Dr. Wood noted that there should an added cultural component around drug addiction & urban health education. Students and doctors need a broader understanding of the stigma towards drug addicted persons to remove any pre-conceived notions that they may have. He also feels that there is a constant challenge balancing practical and theoretical work. Traditionally the focus has been on practical work but he believes it’s just as important to focus on the theoretical while keeping the need for innovation in focus.

How does one choose a career highlight when there are so many noteworthy accomplishments? Dr. Wood cites his research showing the role of Vancouver’s supervised injecting facility in preventing the spread of disease and death – and saving taxpayer’s dollars – as his most important work. The legal fight to keep Insight open is an ongoing challenge; however the research that Dr. Wood does is highly valuable in keeping this life saving program open.

With so much accomplished in such a short time don’t expect Dr. Wood to be slowing down anytime soon. He is currently finishing his internal medicine final exams this spring and will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS.

— Written by Marisa Moody

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