Dr. Oded Bar-Or (1937-2005) was a pioneer in the field of Pediatric Exercise Medicine. A remarkable researcher, educator, mentor, friend, and family man, Dr. Bar-Or dedicated his life to science and research aimed at improving the lives of others – in particular, children.
Below is the text accompanying his 2005 Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) Honor Award, presented to Dr. Bar-Or just prior to his untimely passing in December 2005. (CSEP was formerly known as CASS – the Canadian Association of Sports Sciences).
Dr. Oded Bar-Or
Children’s Exercise & Nutrition Centre, Chedoke Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario
It is an honour to recognize Dr. Oded Bar-Or as a Canadian whose many outstanding contributions to pediatric exercise physiology in Canada have had unique, profound and pioneering impacts which make him richly deserving of the CSEP Honour Award.
Oded is currently Professor Emeritus in Pediatrics and the Founder and Director of the Children’s Exercise and Nutrition Centre in the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University. He is also an Associate Member of their Department of Kinesiology.
Oded was an eminent exercise physiologist, clinician, teacher, and mentor long before McMaster University successfully lured him to Canada over twenty-five years ago. Through McMaster’s Health Sciences Faculty, he conceived and founded at the Chedoke Hospital in Hamilton one of the world’s first, if not the first, pediatric medical clinics dedicated to the application of exercise physiology for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric pathologies. The primary impact of his prolific research and scientific activities has been to change the perspective that dominated medical and physiological circles; this perspective attributed the differences between adults and children in their responses to exercise primarily to the physical difference in body size and anthropometry. His research has demonstrated how overly simplistic such a perspective was, and has revealed that the differences in response to acute and chronic exercise are due to a much more complex interaction of physiological systems, biophysics, and social factors.
After graduating with his medical degree in 1965 from the Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, Oded immediately took a Research Associate position in E. Buskirk’s celebrated Laboratory for Human Performance Research at Penn State University. It was during that period that he carried out one of his first research projects with children, and the first he conducted in Canada, collaborating with another esteemed Canadian exercise physiologist, Roy Shephard. Their landmark study of the “…working capacity of Toronto school children”, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1969, led to the first determinations of cardiac output in exercising children, which they described in 1971 journal publications.
His research communications began in 1968 and as of mid-2005 included: 176 peer-reviewed journal publications; 36 invited chapters in books; hundreds of published abstracts and proceedings; 10 books which he authored, co-authored or edited; almost two hundred invited presentations. The fields of major scientific interest reflected in these articles have included: physiological and medical aspects of children’s response to exercise and physical inactivity; thermal regulation and child’s tolerance of exercise in high and low environmental temperatures, in health and disease; fluid and electrolyte replenishment in the exercising child; supramaximal muscle power in health and disease.
These creative and prolific scientific contributions included a ground-breaking book which he wrote and published a couple of years after commencing work at McMaster University. Much like his clinic, “Pediatric Sports Medicine for the Practitioner,” published in 1983, was the first textbook of its kind entirely dedicated to pediatric sports medicine and exercise physiology. An updated version which he co-authored with T. Rowland was published in 2004.
Any scientific award to Oded Bar-Or must also note his creation of The Wingate Anaerobic Test, together with his colleague Dr. Omri Inbar at the Wingate Institute in Israel. Their scientific rigour led to this test of anaerobic power becoming one of the most widely used tests of anaerobic power in exercise physiology labs around the world.
Oded’s contribution to Canadian exercise physiology also includes the mentorship of many graduate exercise physiology students who are today university faculty members continuing to generate and disseminate the science of pediatric exercise physiology. His contribution to the CSEP (then the Canadian Association of Sports Sciences) began as physiology Section Editor of the Canadian Journal of Applied Sport Sciences (1984-1987); included a term as President-elect, President and Past-President on the Board from 1986-1989; and continues as a member, representing the biological sciences, of the CSEP Advisory Committee for Canada’s Physical Activity Guides for Children & Youth (2000 – present). His curriculum vitae is chock full of contributions to other Canadian and international organizations which advocate the importance of science in promoting the role of exercise and fitness for health and sports both for children and adults.
Dr. Bar-Or has received numerous awards and honorary memberships from international sports sciences societies, as well as two honorary doctorates. It is only fitting that Canada’s own national exercise physiology society joins these other organizations in recognizing the profound scientific contributions made by Oded Bar-Or to exercise physiology in Canada and the world.