2004 Richard C. Tees Distinguished Leadership Aware Winner: Dr. Franco Lepore

Professor Lepore’s research has contributed exceptionally to the advancement of knowledge in psychology by its originality and the effects it had on the development of experimental and clinical research in Canada. Throughout his career, Professor Lepore has promoted scientific research in psychology in Canada through his sustained work, his leadership, and by acting as a spokesperson for the field in numerous contexts. His efforts have contributed to the development of psychology as a science in Canada, and a small subset of his achievements are described below.

Dr. Lepore’s research focused on three major themes, all linked to the study of the relation between the brain and behaviour. A first series of studies examined the communication systems between the two hemispheres of the brain. The second theme of Dr. Lepore’s research involved the organisation and the development of sensory systems, especially the visual system. The third research theme in Professor Lepore's prolific research program concerns the study of cerebral plasticity in humans suffering from diverse sensory deficiencies. This has led to publications in the most prestigious journals, including Nature, Science and PNAS.

The exceptional research achievements of Professor Lepore result from thirty years of total dedication. With the help of his students and collaborators, he mounted a sensory neuropsychology laboratory that enabled a wide variety of different types of research ranging from work on cellular electrophysiology (single-cell recordings) to studies of perceptual development in children, and the analysis of neurologically impaired individuals. For the last 10 years, Professor Lepore has been the co-founder and Director of the Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychology et Cognition (CERNEC), a research center officially recognized and funded by the FRSQ (Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec) and the University of Montreal.

It is worth emphasizing that this remarkable research activity has not prevented Dr. Lepore from attending to other tasks related to his teaching responsibilities with excellence. A large number of students have obtained their Master’s or Ph.D. degree under his supervision. Fourteen of them have themselves become professors at colleges (3) or at universities (11) highlighting his important contribution to the training of future researchers and teachers in our discipline. His other students have all obtained positions either in the private or health sector as neuropsychology clinicians or researchers.

His contributions toward the development of neuropsychological training at the University of Montreal and more generally in Quebec equally deserve to be highlighted. Professor Lepore has been the chair of a multi-departmental committee that elaborated the so-called “Protocol of Agreement in Neuropsychology.” It is noteworthy that this procedure constituted the first attempt to establish an integrated education program for this discipline in francophone Quebec. It is without any doubt thanks to the mobilizing effects of his work that experimental and clinical neuropsychology has developed to the point of becoming one of psychology’s most dynamic sub-disciplines in Quebec. Moreover, while Professor Lepore was Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal (1994-1998), the clinical neuropsychology program was accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association.

Dr. Lepore’s qualifications have been recognized at the national level by his election as Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1991. He is also a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA, 1991). In 1994 CPA awarded him their “D.O. Hebb Distinguished Scientific Award” for his research excellence and more recently, he was awarded the Adrien Pinard’s prize by the Société québécoise de Recherche en psychologie, again in recognition of his contribution to the development of psychology as a science in Quebec. His research excellence and leadership was recognized once more when he was appointed as a Canada Research Chair (in Cognitive Neuroscience).

In summary, Professor Lepore has contributed, through sustained, meritorious, and selfless leadership, to the development of research and education in experimental psychology through his personal supervision and research work, but also through his active involvement in the development of psychology at the University of Montreal, through the creation of graduate programs, through the development of laboratories and of operations and material infrastructure for research. He has led by example and by active involvement in activities that have had a major impact on research and training in experimental psychology. His leadership has been a key factor in the recent development of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Montreal.