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When Rémi Quirion first met Abraham Fuks, then dean of McGill's Faculty of Medicine, he was impressed by the dean's extensive knowledge of fine wine.
Quirion, scientific director of the Douglas Hospital Research Centre, soon learned that Fuks' knowledge didn't end there.
"Much more than that, I was impressed with his intellect and how he would ask new recruits questions about their research," recalled Quirion, addressing dozens of those same recruits at the Douglas Hospital's Scientific Research Day on Nov. 29.
Organized in honour of Fuks, who retired earlier this year, the daylong event featured presentations from 21 researchers who joined the McGill-affiliated mental-health research and teaching hospital during Fuks' tenure, from 1995 to 2006.
It also provided the perfect opportunity to announce the new Abraham Fuks Studentship Awards in Translational Mental Health Research, worth $20,000 per year, with winning students to be chosen and funded by the Douglas Hospital Foundation. The goal is to award three studentships per year at the graduate or PhD level, with the first to be awarded by the fall of 2007.
"We always want to find ways to help students and rather than name a room after Dr Fuks, this will leave a longer legacy," Quirion said in an interview.
As for Fuks, he was pleased to "listen to the finest agglomeration of psychiatric research in the country," on topics including Alzheimer's disease, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and public health policy.
"One of the lovely things about having a leadership role is having the chance to be involved with successful young people like these," he said. "It's like academic parenthood."
Sonia Lupien, who joined the Douglas Hospital Research Centre in 1996 and is now associate director of clinical research at the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging, was scheduled to talk about the effects of stress on memory, but instead used her presentation time to pay tribute to the former dean.
"When I went to meet Dr Fuks for the first time, he told me, ‘You will work, you will get funds, you will publish and you will get tenure, but if you want to have fun while doing this, you have to collaborate — not only at the Douglas but at McGill.' I took his advice."
Lauding the tradition of excellence at the Douglas, a designated University Institute in Mental Health, Fuks said he hopes the current and future generations of researchers will allow the 125-year-old facility to continue to "age well, like a fine wine."