Adolescent Health Profiles - Jean-Yves Frappier

Honouring the Illustrious IAAH Career of Jean-Yves Frappier

Jean-Yves Frappier, MD, FRCPC

Humble. Kind. Generous. Dedicated. Quiet. A silent force. To the point. Workaholic. These are just a few of the words used to describe adolescent medicine specialist and full professor of Paediatrics, Jean-Yves Frappier, an esteemed colleague who has devoted his professional life to improving the lives of adolescents and young adults. He has used his knowledge and passion to collaborate with and lead others in the field, increase global awareness, build connections, and train the next generation of adolescent health professionals.

While Frappier has occupied many roles throughout his impressive career, the role of Treasurer-Secretariat and member of the executive committee of the International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH) is one among his longest running – he held the position for over two decades! He was elected at the Youth Health Assembly in Vancouver, Canada in 1995, a unique and exuberant event he helped organise, and has worked diligently and meticulously across the successive tenures of multiple IAAH Presidents: the late (fellow countryman) Roger Tonkin, Sue Bagshaw, the late Ueli Buhlmann, Linda Bearinger, and Bruce Dick, to bolster IAAH as a global hub for adolescent health. By the time he stepped down, at the conclusion of the largest IAAH World Congress in New Delhi, India in 2017, there was much to show for his long-standing organisational largesse and fiscal stewardship.

Not least in this regard, was the warm appreciation of discerning associates. New Zealand’s Sue Bagshaw (IAAH President 2001-2005) considers Frappier not only as someone who “knew how to write constitutions, knew how to manage finances,” but also as “one of the most supportive people I have worked within a board context.” Bagshaw goes on to say, “I’ll never forget his eyebrows moving as he smiled, and his semi-quizzical look as he was about to make a comment, which probably was not going to be what everyone wanted to hear! His efficiency and quiet background work did an enormous amount towards establishing the Association and ensuring its future would be a good one.”

I too have reason to like this man. Shortly after the Society for Adolescent Medicine Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada in 2010, the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted, its widely dispersing ash causing airspace closures and cancellations of flights. My wife Anne and I were stranded in Montreal at the time, clueless as to when or how we might be able to fly on to Europe for sabbatical encounters. Jean-Yves unexpectedly turned up at our hotel and matter-of-factly stated, “Well, you cannot live here – too expensive. Come home with me and stay, as long as necessary….”

That random act of kindness, from someone we did not know particularly well, has remained with me. I sought a contemporary comment from Pierre-Andre Michaud, a retired full professor of adolescent medicine and health at Lausanne University Hospital Switzerland, one of Jean-Yves’ closer and better-informed associates. Pierre-Andre writes: “I met J-Y for the first time in 1980, while preparing for a fellowship at the ‘Section aux adolescents’ just created by Professor Jean Wilkins at Sainte-Justine University Hospital, the large French-speaking paediatric hospital of Montreal. From the start, he was extremely helpful and supportive. Besides being an experienced colleague in adolescent medicine and health, he quickly became a very close friend, not only for me, but also for my wife and our children. This is one aspect of his personality: a profound humanity and kindness.”

Professional Recognition

Regarding their work-related connections, Pierre-Andre continues, “Over the years, we had regular collaborations within SAHM and IAAH. We developed common interests, beyond the mere topic of adolescent health care, in the fields of medical education and ethics.” He affectionately describes J-Y as a ‘workaholic’ (!) who is ‘still dedicating much of his time to the administration of CHU Sainte-Justine as its Chairman of the Department of Paediatrics, and after his terms, as Head of the General Paediatrics Division, including the Adolescent Medicine Section, a good example of his generosity towards professionals working in paediatrics and adolescent medicine.’

Current IAAH Treasurer, Meera Beharry, also takes note of Frappier’s generosity and desire to see IAAH continue to thrive and grow after he stepped down from his role. “Jean-Yves was steadfast and very organized in his management of IAAH finances and organizational order. When I stepped into the treasurer role, Jean-Yves was there to guide me and get me up to speed on running a non-profit organization. I am very grateful for his willingness to share all his knowledge an ensure transitional success,” said Beharry.

In addition to running IAAH, Frappier was Head of Adolescent Medicine Section at Sainte-Justine University Hospital for 18 years and is a founder of the Adolescent Medicine Specialty at the Royal College of physicians and surgeons of Canada (2008). He has been a member, but mostly the president of scientific and/or organizing committees of more than 70 scientific events, mostly Canadian or international. He has been a guest speaker at more than 100 events, and has spoken in a professional capacity on 5 different continents. Frappier has edited 2 books, has written 50 book chapters, has co-authored more than 100 peer reviewed articles, has 200 poster, oral or workshop presentations. Frappier founded the Canadian Association for Adolescent Health in 1993. He was member of the adolescent health committee of the Canadian Paediatric Society for over 25 years, as well as its president for 8 years.

Together with colleagues, he developed and is the leader of a provincial prevention program for non-accidental head trauma and child and adolescent maltreatment (2002), a program recently adopted in France. For the past 26 years, he has been on a provincial working group who developed and regularly update the medicolegal kit and intervention guide for all victims of sexual violence in 85 designated centres across his Canadian province, reflecting his special interest in the sexual and general health concerns of youth, especially the most vulnerable. Since 1996, he has served as the President of the Montreal Aggression Prevention Centre. He has fulfilled numerous other hospital, governmental, WHO, NGO, and University-related roles during his tenure.

These wide-ranging contributions – globally, regionally, and locally – have not gone unnoticed. In 2013, at the commencement of Bruce Dick’s presidency, Frappier was honoured with an IAAH Founder’s Award. In his own country, he has received the Marie Vincent Foundation’s Award for Excellence in Work on Violence Against Children (1999), Mentor of the Year for Quebec by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (2009), an award for excellence in teaching, pre-clinical years, School of Medicine, University of Montreal (2011), and an award for Individual Leadership from Children’s Healthcare Canada (2019). More recently, Frappier received the Ross Award from the Canadian Paediatric Society (2019). This prestigious honour recognizing lifelong excellence in the fields of paediatric research, education, healthcare, and advocacy. In 2020, he received an award from Sainte-Justine University Hospital for excellence in a professional career path.

Prestigious accolades such as these bear testimony to a pattern of persistent caring and tireless effort in the service of young people. One can imagine that they were but wryly accepted by this quintessentially unassuming individual, as suggested by photographic evidence of the recipient’s smiling eyebrows and semi-quizzical look. In any case, having attended to IAAH’s financial and administrative tasks for over twenty years, as gratefully stated on the IAAH website, “Dr. Frappier continues to be a source of knowledge and wisdom regarding the history and functionality of IAAH.” And he continues, of course, to be a kind and supportive friend to many people, young, old, and in between.

By: David Bennett, with special thanks to Jenna Baumgartner (IAAH Executive Administrator), Pierre-Andre Michaud (Chair, 5th IAAH World Congress, 1991), Sue Bagshaw (IAAH President 2001-2005), and Meera Beharry (IAAH Treasurer/Secretariat).

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