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Article

George C. Ebers

George Cornell Ebers, neurologist, researcher (born 24 July 1946 in Budapest, Hungary). Ebers has published extensively with more than 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals, three books, 25 book chapters, and multiple editorials to his name. He has contributed significant medical research into multiple sclerosis (MS). A former professor at Western University and the University of Oxford, Ebers was awarded the John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research.

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Maude Abbott

Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott, cardiac pathologist, physician, curator (born 18 March 1868 in St. Andrews East, QC; died 2 September 1940 in Montreal, QC). Maude Abbott is known as the author of The Atlas of Congenital Cardiac Disease (1936), a groundbreaking text in cardiac research. Though Abbott graduated in arts from McGill University (1890), she was barred from studying medicine at McGill because of her gender. Instead, she attended Bishop’s College (now Bishop’s University), earning a medical degree in 1894. As assistant curator of the McGill Medical Museum (1898), and curator (1901), she revolutionized the teaching of pathology by using the museum as an instructional tool. Abbott’s work paved the way for women in medicine and laid the foundation for modern heart surgery. (See also Women in STEM).

Article

Dominique Gaspard

Dominique François Gaspard, physician and community builder (born 22 December 1884 in New Orleans, Louisiana; died 6 February 1938 in Montreal, QC). Gaspard was a respected doctor and a trailblazer in Montreal’s Black district. After serving with distinction at a field hospital during the First World War, he devoted himself to medical practice in Montreal. He also worked to create social and intellectual outlets for Black men in the city. A bilingual Catholic, he was unique in the city’s early-20th-century anglophone  Protestant Black community. His story speaks of a complexity of language, ethnicity and migration not often explored in narratives of Quebec’s English-speaking and Black communities.

Article

Irma LeVasseur

Irma LeVasseur, MD, first French-Canadian female doctor and founder of the Hôpital Sainte-Justine in Montreal and the Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus in Québec City (born 20 January 1877 in Québec, QC; died 18 January 1964 in Québec, QC.) Dr. LeVasseur was one of the very few female doctors of her era and was a pioneer in pediatric medicine. She devoted her life to sick children, founding major institutions that continued her work after her death.

Article

Norman Bethune

Henry Norman Bethune, surgeon, inventor, political activist (born 4 March 1890 in Gravenhurst, ON; died 12 November 1939 in Huang Shiko, China). Norman Bethune was an innovative thoracic surgeon who made significant contributions in the field, including the invention or redesign of surgical instruments. He was also an early advocate of universal health care in Canada. A member of the Communist Party, Bethune volunteered during the Spanish Civil War, where he pioneered the mobile blood transfusion unit. In 1938, he travelled to China, where he became a battlefield surgeon for Chinese Communist forces under Mao Zedong. Bethune’s commitment to the welfare of soldiers and civilians during the Sino-Japanese War made him a hero in the People's Republic of China.

Article

Brenda Milner

Brenda Atkinson Milner (née Langford), CC, GOQ, FRSC, FRS, neuropsychologist (born 15 July 1918 in Manchester, England). Dr. Milner pioneered the field of neuropsychology, combining neurology and psychology. Most notably, she discovered that the part of the brain called the medial temporal lobe (which includes the hippocampus) is critical for the forming of long-term memories. Milner’s later work revealed that the learning of skills involving the combination of vision and movement is not part of the medial temporal lobe system. These discoveries proved that there are different forms of memory in different brain regions. Through her observation of patients, Milner changed forever our understanding of the brain’s learning and memory mechanisms.

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Henry George Thode

Henry George Thode, scientist, university administrator (b at Dundurn, Sask 10 Sept 1910; d 22 Mar 1997). He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, earned his doctorate from Chicago in 1934 and worked in the labs of Nobel winner Harold Urey at Columbia before joining McMaster in 1939.

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Cecilia Krieger

Cypra Cecilia Krieger, mathematician, professor (born 9 April 1894 in Jasło, Galicia [Poland]; died 17 August 1974 in Toronto, ON). Krieger was the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics from a Canadian university (the University of Toronto) and only the third person to be awarded a mathematics doctorate in Canada. She taught mathematics and physics at the University of Toronto for over 30 years. Krieger is best known for her English translation of noted mathematical texts Introduction to General Typology and General Typology.

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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

Laurent “Dr. Kill” Duvernay-Tardif, CQ, football player, doctor (born 11 February 1991 in Saint-Jean-Baptiste, QC). Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is an offensive lineman with the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He was the 10th player ever drafted into the NFL from Canadian college and university football, and is the first Quebec-born football player to win a Super Bowl championship. Duvernay-Tardif is also the first active NFL player to become a doctor. He opted out of the 2020 season to work at a Montreal long-term care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was made a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec in 2019. In 2020, he was named a Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated, as well as co-winner (with soccer player Alphonso Davies) of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year. Duvernay-Tardif was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2021.

Article

Biruté Galdikas

Biruté Marija Filomena Galdikas, OC, primatologist, conservationist, educator (born 10 May 1946 in Wiesbaden, Germany). Galdikas is the world’s leading authority on orangutans. She has studied them in Indonesian Borneo since 1971. She is also involved in conservation and rehabilitation efforts for orangutans. Galdikas forms part of a trio of primatologists nicknamed the “Trimates,” along with Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. Galdikas spends part of the year in Indonesia and teaches half time at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Article

Brock Chisholm

George Brock Chisholm, CC, CBE, ED, psychiatrist, medical administrator, soldier (born 18 May 1896 in Oakville, ON; died 4 February 1971 in Victoria, BC). Brock Chisholm earned  honours for courageous service in the First World War, including a Military Cross (MC) and Bar. He obtained his MD from the University of Toronto in 1924 and became an influential psychiatrist following training at Yale University. He introduced mental health as a component of the recruitment and management of the Canadian Army during the Second World War. He directed the army’s medical services, served in the federal government as deputy minister of health, and became the founding director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). His vocal attacks on methods of indoctrinating children with societal myths made him a controversial public figure. He was an often provocative advocate of world peace and mental health.

Article

Wilfred Bigelow

Wilfred Gordon Bigelow, OC, surgeon (born 18 June 1913 in Brandon, MB; died 27 March 2005 in Toronto, ON). Dr. Bigelow's special contribution to surgery of the heart was the use of hypothermia to slow tissue metabolism and protect the heart and brain from damage (see Cold Weather Injuries). His research on hypothermia also led to him to co-develop the portable artificial external cardiac pacemaker in 1950. This medical innovation contributed to the development of implantable cardiac pacemakers.

Article

Charles Lightfoot Roman

Charles Lightfoot Roman, MD, CM, surgeon, author, researcher, lecturer (born 19 May 1889 in Port Elgin, ON; died 8 June 1961 in Valleyfield, QC). Charles Lightfoot Roman was one of the first Black Canadians to graduate from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and became a recognized expert in industrial medicine. He was also one of the first Black Canadians to enlist for service in the First World War and was the only known Black person to serve with the Canadian General Hospital No. 3 (McGill). Lightfoot Roman was also likely the first Black Grand Master of a traditional Masonic lodge.

Article

Walter Kohn

Walter Kohn, theoretical physicist, professor, Nobel laureate in chemistry (born 9 March 1923 in Vienna, Austria; died 19 April 2016, Santa Barbara, United States). A refugee in England at the outbreak of the Second World War, Kohn was arrested in 1940 as an “enemy alien” and sent to Canada, where he was held in detention camps until 1942 (see Canada and the Holocaust). After his release, he studied mathematics and physics at the University of Toronto and Harvard University. He taught for many years at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and later at the University of California, San Diego and was the founding director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Kohn was at the forefront of solid-state physics and quantum chemistry during his scientific career. For his work on “density functional theory” he was named co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1998.

Article

Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy, engineer, inventor (born 2 May 1843 or 1844 in Colchester, Canada West; died 10 October 1929 in Wayne County, Michigan.) McCoy was an African-Canadian mechanical engineer and inventor best known for his groundbreaking innovations in industrial lubrication.

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30 Scientists

​To celebrate its 30th anniversary, The Canadian Encyclopedia created 30 lists of 30 things that make us proud to be Canadian, from famous people and historic events, to iconic foods and influential artists.

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Fossmobile

The Fossmobile was invented by George Foote Foss in 1897. It is the first Canadian example of an automobile built with an internal combustion engine. While the Fossmobile was never mass-produced for the Canadian automotive market (see automotive industry), it is an example of ingenuity and innovation. A tribute/replica of the Fossmobile was unveiled at an automobile club in Burlington, Ontario in 2022.