Discoveries revolutionized the diagnosis and management of
cancer and immunology
Prof. Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, and the Hon. Arthur T. Porter, Director General and CEO of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), welcome the news that Dr. Phil Gold is to be inducted into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. In 1965, Dr. Gold co-discovered the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), the first clinically useful human tumour marker that revolutionized the diagnosis and management of cancer. At a ceremony in April 2010, Dr. Gold and five other distinguished inductees will join the ranks of the existing 76 laureates who have pushed the boundaries of knowledge to improve human health.
“When we talk about our institution’s role in transforming health care, we often mention such luminaries as Dr. Wilder Penfield, Sir William Osler and Dr. Maude Abbott who have helped put the MUHC on the world map,” noted the Hon. Arthur T. Porter. “These pioneers’ contributions to medicine will always be emblematic of our rich heritage but today I wish to underscore another facet of their impact, namely how they and all those who have followed in their footsteps inspire new generations to pursue excellence. Dr. Gold is one of these remarkable individuals. I am honoured to call him both a colleague and a friend.”
Dr. Gold was born in Montreal and has remained faithful to his native city for most of his life. A brilliant mind with a distinguished record of scientific achievement in immunology and cancer, Dr. Gold is Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Oncology in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill and Executive Director of the Clinical Research Centre at the Montreal General Hospital, which is part of the Research Institute of the MUHC. He is known to many as a down-to-earth, caring physician, an inspirational leader and a gifted teacher—the latter being clearly of great importance to him: “I am very honoured to be included among the pantheon of great physicians in the Medical Hall of Fame,” said Dr. Gold. “Many of them were my teachers and colleagues; from my perspective, the most important thing I’ve ever done is teach.”
Dr. Gold’s passion for teaching resonates with Prof. Munroe-Blum: “This has been a great year for McGill. We’re very proud that faculty members, scholars and alumni have earned two Nobel Prizes, three Killam Prizes and two Steacie Memorial Fellowships. These awards and Dr. Gold’s distinction as the latest inductee in The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame speak volumes to the quality of our professoriate and our commitment to attracting the best from Canada and around the world to support graduate students and the excellence of our programs.”
In 1965, Dr. Gold and his colleague, Dr. Samuel Freedman, published a seminal paper on their concept-shifting discovery of CEA, the tumour marker that is found in 70% of cancer patients. This marker was developed into a blood test that remains the most frequently used test in oncology around the world today, in addition to being the standard against which other human tumour markers are measured. Through this work, Dr. Gold is credited for developing the field of Human Tumour Marker Biology. His subsequent demonstration that CEA was in embryonic and fetal tissue initiated the field of oncodevelopmental biology.
The impact of the CEA discovery, along with other work in the division of clinical immunology and allergy at the Montreal General Hospital, led to the establishment of the McGill Cancer Centre in 1974. Thirty-five years later, Dr. Gold’s original dream of creating a first-rate cancer centre by centralizing the efforts of McGill University and its affiliated hospitals has been realized through the Research Institute of the MUHC and the Goodman Cancer Centre at McGill.
“The relevance of Dr. Gold’s discovery over four decades ago
stands today as an indelible testament to the value of research,“
added Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos, Director of the Research
Institute (RI) and Associate Director General of Research at the
MUHC. “He is a trusted friend to his colleagues, an invaluable
contributor to many RI committees and a role model for young
investigators. I am thrilled that we have thirty-five Cancer Axis
investigators at the Research Institute to further Dr. Gold’s
dream. With our new Comprehensive Cancer Centre and the Centre for
Innovative Medicine at the Glen Campus, we will be even better
positioned to push the boundaries of new knowledge.”
Dr. Gold has received numerous international awards and been elected to many prestigious scientific organizations. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada (1986), an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec (1990), and a member of the Academy of Great Montrealers (1986). He received the Gairdner Foundation International Award (with Dr. Freedman, 1978) and the F.N.G. Starr Award from the Canadian Medical Association (1986).
Dr. Gold’s fellow Canadian Medical Hall of Fame inductees include Dr. Alan C. Burton MBE, Dr. William A. Cochrane OC, Dr. James C. Hogg OC, Dr. Vera Peters OC and Dr. Calvin R. Stiller CM O. Ont. More than 500 of Canada’s leading citizens will come together to celebrate the formal induction of the incoming laureates on April 13, 2010 in Calgary. Eighteen of the current seventy-six laureates have ties to McGill and/or the MUHC.
McGill University, founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada’s leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 33,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 160 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,000 francophones – with more than 6,200 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. Its partner hospitals are the Montreal Children's Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital and Institute, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital. The goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge. www.muhc.ca
The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is the only national organization dedicated to recognizing Canada’s medical heroes. Through an exhibit hall in London, Ont., and a national educational program, thousands of Canadians gain a greater appreciation of our country’s contribution to global health care, and more young people pursue careers in medicine and the health sciences.
For more information, contact:
Media Relations Officer (Research) Communications Coordinator (Research)
mark.shainblum [at] mcgill.ca
or Julie Robert
McGill University MUHC Public Affairs & Strategic Planning
julie.robert [at] muhc.mcgill.ca