Globe and Mail - 'Extraordinary leader' had a huge impact on the Montreal Neurological Institute


In 1934, on the campus of McGill University, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield founded the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital and significantly advanced the state of neuroscience in Canada.

Describing Penfield's underlying vision several years ago, David Colman explained: "The purpose of the new institute was the study of neurological diseases using the most advanced methods possible, and to use the new knowledge to return to the clinic with innovative tools and therapies..."

The creation of "an open corridor from the patient's bedside to the scientist's lab bench" was a vision Colman embraced fully and championed unrelentingly in his nine years as director of The Neuro, as it is known. His death on June 1, at the age of 62, was a profound shock and loss not only to his family but also to countless colleagues.

"People use the word 'brilliant' very cavalierly, but it really applied to Dave," says Heather Munroe-Blum, principal of McGill. "He was compassionate and empathic but he was also extremely determined, which is key in a field that is morphing as rapidly as neuroscience. He was an extraordinary leader."