(February 1, 2012—Toronto, ON) Dr. Lou Siminovitch, Director Emeritus of the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital was appointed to the Order of Ontario last week, in recognition of his lifetime achievements in biomedical research.
Created in 1986, the Order of Ontario, the province's highest official honour, recognizes the highest level of individual excellence and achievement in any field.
“Lou is highly skilled at deflecting attention and recognition but I am personally glad that he let down his guard for this wonderful honour, as it is a way for the Province to honour his lifetime achievements,” said Dr. Jim Woodgett, current Director of the Lunenfeld. “Lou remains a passionate and persistent advocate for excellence in research and the arts, and is a truly inspirational role model.”
Dr. Siminovitch transformed the landscape of Canadian science—he is considered the father of medical genetic research in Canada and is one of the nation’s most distinguished and internationally renowned scientists.
“I am especially pleased to receive this particular honour because the Order recognizes outstanding contributions over the full spectrum of social activity,” said Dr. Siminovitch.
He played a fundamental role in the establishment and development of four outstanding medical research environments in Canada and worldwide, especially in genetics, serving as Director of Biology at the Ontario Cancer Institute at Princess Margaret Hospital; first Chair of the newly created Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto; first Chair of Medical Genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, and; inaugural Director of the Lunenfeld (1985-94).
Dr. Siminovitch’s leadership as head of the Lunenfeld resulted in a research centre of international renown. He recruited 25 of the best and brightest scientific minds worldwide to launch the Institute, including Drs. Tony Pawson, Knox Ritchie, Janet Rossant, Alexandra Joyner, Alan Bernstein, Robert Kerbel, Jim Dennis, John Roder, Nobumichi Hozumi, and more.
“I had a very simple plan,” said Dr. Siminovitch. “I was not going to just hire scientists; I planned to hire leaders. We started out like a ball of fire—with good people, first-rate research and excellent programs.”
Dr. Siminovitch was an advisor in the creation and development of the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto, one of the world's leading research centres for the study of age-related changes in the brain. He was also involved in the creation of the first Advisory Board of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research, and acted as an advisor on one of its major programs, evolutionary biology.
Dr. Siminovitch served as an advisor to the Ontario Provincial Government on several boards and in the execution of important allocation programs. Both during his active career and after retiring as Research Director, Dr. Siminovitch has been involved with the boards and scientific advisory panels of several health research enterprises, both in Canada and the U.S., especially the National Cancer Institute of Canada.
As a scientist, Dr. Siminovitch made important contributions to bacterial and animal virus genetics, human genetics and cancer research. As a teacher, he influenced and trained two generations of Canadian biomedical researchers. He contributed to the Nobel Prize-winning work in molecular genetics of mentors Jacques Monod and Andre Lwoff of the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
During his remarkable five-decade career, Dr. Siminovitch was a founding member of four international journals and served as editor of several other journals. He published over 200 papers, reflecting his pioneering work in the fields of virology, haemopoiesis, molecular genetics and cancer.
Dr. Siminovitch is one of only 25 Canadian scientists to be inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and has received a long list of scientific and other awards including several honorary degrees, the Flavelle Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Canada (1978) and the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award (1981). He also has been made both an Officer and Companion of the Order of Canada (1980; 1989). Dr. Siminovitch has proven to be a master builder of Canada's health care system and a visionary in the advancement of scientific medicine.
He is also proud of his family, which includes three successful daughters and five grandchildren.
Dr. Lou Siminovitch: A pioneer in Canadian science and human genetics
Born: May 1, 1920
Birthplace: Montreal, Québec
· Pioneer in human bacterial, viral and human genetics
· Leading Canadian researcher involved in health-related research