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Emeritus Professor Gilles Thériault, MD, DSc (1941 – 2020)
Gilles Thériault was an internationally known physician and epidemiologist who devoted his career to cancer research and to teaching. He made landmark contributions to the study of occupational cancers.
Gilles graduated in medicine from Université Laval in Québec City and developed an interest in occupational health at Harvard University where he obtained a doctorate for his work on respiratory diseases among workers exposed to granite dust. His early collaboration with John Peters, Larry Fine and David Wegman launched a series of discoveries that would soon contribute to changing the face of legislation to protect the health of workers worldwide.
Gilles’ research was eclectic. He conducted seminal studies of the occupational etiology of several cancers including bladder, liver and lung cancers as well as mesothelioma, angiosarcoma and melanoma. He studied the health effects of several occupational exposures including silica, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, vinyl polychloride, sulfur dioxide, electromagnetic fields, synthetic fibres as well as industrial processes such as aluminum smelting, copper extraction and transformation, petroleum refining, and many more. His methodological contributions centered on the validation of occupational exposures and surveillance for detection of occupational-related mortality. He studied the health effects of exposures in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, children and families living near industrial sites.
In addition to his numerous research interests, Gilles was devoted to prevention and the protection of workers and their families. He played a key role in the evidence-based application of Quebec’s laws protecting pregnant women from occupational hazards and compensating victims of occupational cancers. He also made contributions to the study of mental health problems, including suicide, in the workplace. He had a wonderful ability to explain complex issues in simple lay terms aimed at the general public and at workers on topics such as screening for occupational diseases, the risk associated with different types of health hazards and on the prevention of occupational diseases.
Gilles moved from Université Laval to McGill in 1982 to take over the directorship of the McGill School of Occupational Health and from 1996 to 2001 he became chair of the joint Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Occupational Health. He mentored young faculty members and graduate students and supported the expansion of occupational health research to include environmental and genetic causes for human cancers. He trained numerous graduate students who now hold leadership positions in several universities, industries and regulatory agencies in Canada and beyond.
Gilles was a modest and kind man, and a wonderful teacher. His success at bringing together university, industry and funding agencies to collaborate toward the goal of making work environments safer, supported several generations of young researchers to access successful and meaningful careers. He also left a durable footprint in the area of teaching and certification in occupational health practice with the creation of the first professional Masters’ program in occupational health entirely delivered through a distance learning format in Canada, a decade before the Internet became widely available. His teaching innovations were recognized in 2010-11 when he was named to the Faculty of Medicine’s Honour List for Educational Excellence.
He received a lifetime career award from the Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada in 2008 for his exceptional contributions to the growth and development of occupational and environmental medicine in Canada.
On behalf of his current and former colleagues and students at McGill University and throughout the world, and on behalf of the countless number of workers who still today benefit from your research, we thank you Gilles. May your contributions to improved occupational health and safety inspire many generations of practitioners, researchers and policy makers yet to come.
Michel Rossignol, MD
Gilles Paradis, MD
Mark Wainberg (1945 - 2017)
McGill, the Jewish General Hospital and the global AIDS community lost one of their leading advocates and researchers on Tuesday, when Dr. Mark A. Wainberg drowned while on vacation in Florida. Wainberg’s research and collaborations on AIDS and HIV, including the initial identification of the 3TC anti-viral drug, have saved millions of lives around the world.
Wainberg was the head of AIDS research at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital, Director of the McGill University AIDS Centre, and Professor of Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology.
In 2015, he was appointed to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in recognition of having “revolutionized our understanding of HIV/AIDS at medical, epidemiological and political levels.” READ MORE