Timothy Caulfield, Age: 50
Hometown: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Influential because: He’s a scientific superhero
Timothy Caulfield is, among other things, quite possibly the world’s most scientific lawyer. The University of Alberta law professor started 20 years ago as a “traditional” law professor. Today, though, he’s anything but. “At the core, I’m really a little bit of a science geek,” he says. That’s putting it mildly. Caulfield is an overachiever – a Canada research chair in health law and policy, a health senior scholar with the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, the research director for the University of Alberta’s Health Law Institute and a Trudeau fellow.
What that all means is that this lawyer spends an awful lot of time with experts researching stem cells, genomics, transplantation and a myriad of other health issues. Caulfield cuts through the murk and translates meaningful health information to the public, all while promoting sound, science-based health policy.
Sounds rather technical and academic, doesn’t it? Well perhaps you’ve heard Caulfield on an episode of CBC’s Q, as an expert contributor, or maybe you’ve read his op-eds in newspapers. Or perhaps you recognize him as the author of The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness and Happiness, which spent several weeks as a non-fiction bestseller and was reviewed in the New York Times.
Caulfield came to Edmonton when he was in junior high. “I’ve been here long enough that I really do think of myself as an Albertan,” he says. Like most people, he sometimes reflects on what his life might have been had his choices been different: “Some really interesting opportunities have emerged [elsewhere], and had I taken that path, I don’t think I would have an interesting a life as I do now,” Caulfield says. “I’m very grateful for Alberta and the university for supporting me.” And though some might feel overwhelmed by such an array of commitments, Caulfield is fuelled by it. “I love it,” he says. “I feel very lucky. Every time I’m having a bad day I think, ‘Who am I kidding? I get to do this?’”