Berg, Joseph

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d. 11 July 2013


Joseph M. (Joe) Berg, psychiatrist and medical geneticist, was based at Surrey Place Centre, a University-affiliated centre for service, education, and research on developmental disabilities, for many years, and was appointed to the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry, initially as a visiting professor, and then as a regular cross-appointed member.  He was born in Lithuania, raised in South Africa, and educated in South Africa and the UK before coming to Toronto.  He passed away on July 11, 2013. His involvement in the field of developmental disabilities began as early as 1957.  He had a particular research interest in Down syndrome, and his pioneering work helped to demystify the basis not only of Down syndrome, but also of developmental disabilities generally.  His activities spanned many areas, including clinical service development, genetic counselling, education, research, and ethics.  He was a renowned teacher, lecturer (both in Canada and abroad), mentor of students and colleagues, supervisor of medical residents and graduate students, and an author and editor of articles and books on developmental disabilities.  Family members of persons with developmental disability also were recipients of his wisdom and expertise. He was an exemplary counsellor.   His efforts have improved provision of health care services for persons with developmental disabilities in a major way, and also raised awareness of their needs among primary care providers.  Most recently, Joe was involved with the Primary Care Initiative led by Dr. Bill Sullivan at Surrey Place Centre, and as a medical consultant and member of the Research Ethics Board.  Joe was the recipient of the Ontario Association on Developmental Disabilities Hull-Roeher Award, and the Surrey Place Centre June Callwood Award. The Joseph M. Berg Library and Resource Centre at Surrey Place is named in his honour. He will be remembered by all his colleagues there, not just for his professional achievements, but for his sunny disposition and kindness. They, his patients, and his family described him, above all, as a "true gentleman".

See also: Findlay, S.M. (2013).

Prepared by Professor Maire E. Percy