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The Canadian Medical Association has appointed Dr. John Fletcher as the new editor-in-chief for Canada's leading general medicine journal.

Roger Collier/CP

A physician who spent seven years working at one of the world's most prestigious medical journals has been named the top editor at the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The publication announced Wednesday that John Fletcher is taking over the helm.

Dr. Fletcher, a British family doctor who studied at the University of Cambridge and Harvard University and worked for seven years at the British Medical Journal, came to Canada in 2008 to take on the role of deputy editor of research at the CMAJ.

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He takes over the role of editor-in-chief from Paul Hébert, who was in the position for nearly five years. Dr. Hébert presided over a period of stability following upheaval in 2006, when two editors were fired and others resigned following a dispute over editorial independence. The dispute involved a story about the privacy of women seeking the morning-after pill.

Rajendra Kale, a friend of Dr. Fletcher's from Britain who encouraged him to come to Canada, has been acting as the interim editor-in-chief since last October. Dr. Kale made headlines during his short stint as editor, which included authoring an editorial published this week on the issue of sex-selective abortions in Canada.

Dr. Fletcher said his priorities will include increasing the publication of high-impact international research, moving the publication toward creative use of digital media and generally raising the profile of the journal.

He also hopes to oversee development of iPad apps and interactive features on the journal's website to appeal to readers and allow doctors to read articles in a magazine-like format.

In addition to all that, Dr. Fletcher says he hopes that he will be able to see patients in Canada as well. He has been waiting to receive a licence so that he can practice medicine here.

"The experience here in Canada has just been so positive," Dr. Fletcher said. "We're really feeling quite at home already."

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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