Lives of the fellows

John Coleman Laidlaw

b.28 February 1921 d.6 June 2015
OC(2003) BA Toronto(1942) MD(1944) MA(1947) PhD Lond(1950) FRCPC(1955) FRSC(1975) FRCP(1981) Hon DSc McMaster(2004)

John Coleman Laidlaw, known as ‘Jack’, was a Canadian endocrinologist and dean of McMaster University Medical School. He was born in Toronto, Canada. His father, Albert Trout Laidlaw, was an assistant registrar at the University of Toronto. Laidlaw attended the University of Toronto Schools for middle and high school, and then studied medicine at the University of Toronto, qualifying with an MD in 1944.

He was a junior rotating intern at Toronto General Hospital and, in January 1945, joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve as a surgeon lieutenant. He served until April 1946 and then returned to the University of Toronto, where he was a demonstrator in the department of biochemistry. He gained his MA in biochemistry in 1947.

From September 1947 to June 1950 he was a lecturer at University College London. He was awarded his PhD in 1950 and went on to Harvard as a research fellow, then an instructor in medicine and a junior associate in medicine and director of the metabolic unit at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston.

In 1954 he returned to Toronto, eventually becoming professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and senior physician at Toronto General Hospital. In 1967, he co-founded the institute of medical sciences at the University of Toronto and served as director. From 1970, he was head of the division of endocrinology and metabolism, Toronto General Hospital.

In 1975 he moved to McMaster University, where he was the R Samuel McLaughlin professor of medicine and chairman of the department of medicine. From 1981, he was dean of the faculty of health sciences. He held this position until 1985 and retired from McMaster in 1986.

From 1986, he was executive director of medical affairs for the Canadian Cancer Society and vice president of research and education for the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation. He was also a consultant with Cancer Care International and helped organise cancer services in Brazil, Costa Rica, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan.

He was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2003, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of science by McMaster University in 2004 and a lifetime achievement award by the University of Toronto in 2014.

As a student in Toronto, he played ice hockey for the university. He enjoyed theatre, film, music, travel, literature, art, sports and eating at good restaurants.

In 1957 he married Elizabeth Ann Elliott, the daughter of a surgeon. They had two daughters, Kathryn Ann and Margaret Jean (who predeceased him).

RCP editor

[The Toronto Star 9 June 2015 – accessed 31 July 2017; University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine Living History John Coleman Laidlaw (Jack) – accessed 31 July 2017; Wikipedia John Coleman Laidlaw – accessed 31 July 2017]

(Volume XII, page web)

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