Cy Frank’s Life Was a Continuous Journey in Pursuit of Medical Knowledge, Innovation and Visionary Public Policy

All of us at the McCaig Institute are profoundly saddened by Dr. Cy Frank’s sudden passing. Cy was the founder and unwavering champion of the McCaig Institute. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and everyone whose lives he’s touched.

Cy Frank, surgeon, researcher, innovator, visionary, passed away suddenly on March 5. His was a life of continuous journey in pursuit of medical knowledge, health care innovation, and visionary public health policy. Cy’s unabashed passion and confident resoluteness inspired others to join him on his journey.

At the time of his death, Cy was Chief Executive Officer of Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions, a practising orthopaedic surgeon, the McCaig Professor of Joint Injury and Arthritis Research, University of Calgary, and Chief Medical Advisor to Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute.

Cy saw these positions not as career posts but as the means to instigate and lead improvement in health care. He did this in many ways. He was a distinguished researcher committed resolutely to the principle that all medical care should be based on evidence. He was a creative innovator whose ideas and vision and whose passion and fervor for sharing them inspired others to greater endeavor. Importantly, Cy was a tireless patient advocate who believed wholeheartedly that medicine and medical research must above all be in the interest of improving patient outcomes. A gifted tactician and noted strategist, Cy succeeded in breaking down resistance to change and advancing continuous improvement in health care.

He was also an enthusiastic teacher to medical students, orthopaedic residents, and MSc and PhD candidates at the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health (MIBJH). His abiding belief was that medical knowledge must be shared unreservedly for the benefit of patients, and as a surgeon he was noted for bringing the latest evidence-based technology from the research bench to the bedside.

In the ongoing debate over private practice in Canada, Cy was an unabashed defender of Canada’s public health care system, intent on bringing innovative approaches to the challenges of sustaining universal access to high-quality medical care.

Among Cy’s many achievements was founding two bone and joint institutes with support from business leader and philanthropist J.R. “Bud” McCaig: the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, part of the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary is mandated to carry out high quality bone and joint research. The Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute (ABJHI) is dedicated to testing and implementation of bone and joint research.  The institutes grew out of the vision Cy and a group of physicians and researchers had of an organization that would serve as a catalyst for improved patient care by influencing clinical practice, public policy, research and the exchange of knowledge.

Over a career spanning 39 years, Cy published 275 papers, authored numerous books and chapters, and served on approximately 60 national and international committees. Most recently, he was appointed by Canada’s Health minister to a panel tasked with finding innovative ideas for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care. In 2013, the Alberta government appointed Cy as its representative on the Health Council of Canada to monitor and report on progress in health care renewal.

Cy received many well deserved honours and accolades throughout his career, including the Order of Canada in 2014.  He appreciated the recognition but valued most the relationships he had with his colleagues and the love and support of his family and friends. 

To view a video tribute created by the Canadian Orthopaedic Association please click here.

To read the University of Calgary's tribute click here.