01/18/2012 11:51 EST | Updated 03/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Canadian Medical Association appoints new editor of country's top medical journal

TORONTO - The Canadian Medical Association has appointed a new editor-in-chief for Canada's leading general medicine journal.

Dr. John Fletcher is taking over the top job at the Canadian Medical Association Journal, where he has been deputy editor for research for the past three years.

Fletcher holds a medical degree from the University of Cambridge in England and a master's degree in public health from Harvard University.

Fletcher spent seven years at the British Medical Journal — which is now known simply as BMJ — before joining the staff of the Canadian journal.

He was selected over interim editor Rajendra Kale, who wrote several attention-grabbing editorials during his brief tenure in the editor's chair.

Kale wrote this week's editorial urging hospitals to withhold the gender of fetuses until after 30 weeks to foil efforts to abort female fetuses and an earlier editorial calling on hospitals to stop charging patients for parking.

Fletcher replaces Dr. Paul Hebert, who put the journal back on track after a prolonged controversy over the CMA's firing of former editor Dr. John Hoey in 2006.

"John Fletcher has the right combination of leadership and interpersonal skills, editorial expertise and a commitment to knowledge transfer," Paul-Emile Cloutier, Secretary General and CEO of the CMA, said in a statement. "I think he will be an excellent editor-in-chief."

Fletcher said he was honoured to be named to the top job of the journal, which is the sixth-ranked general medical journal in the world.