Louis "Lou" Siminovitch, Ph.D. CC OOnt FRSC FRS (May 1, 1920 - April 6, 2021). University Professor. First chair of what is today the department of molecular genetics. He was a pioneer researcher on the genetic basis of muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, and helped establish Ontario programs exploring genetic roots of cancer. Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, Director Emeritus Research, Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute
Molecular Biology / Medical Science (1956-1985) Human genetics and microbiology University Professor Emeritus BSc, PhD Founding director of research at Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute Foreign associate to the National Academy of Sciences
Honours FRSC 1965 FRS 1980 Companion of the Order of Canada 1988 Order of Ontario 2012 References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Siminovitch Siminovitch, Louis. ‘Louis Siminovitch.’ In G.A. Kenny-Wallace, et al., eds. In Celebration of Canadian Scientisits: A Decade of Killam Laureates. Ottawa, 1990.
OBITUARIES: 1: Dr. Lou Siminovitch, the force behind early genetics research in Canada, dies at age 100 Siminovitch helped establish ‘world-leading’ genetics departments in Toronto. When Dr. Jim Woodgett pictures Dr. Lou Siminovitch, he sees him on a sofa in his office at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, surrounded by books. Not just the latest issues of the journals Science and Nature, which he continued to receive in hardcopy long after most were reading online — but novels and non-fiction as well, stacked high among the photographs, journals and notes that filled the room. "He had this chaos around him," said Woodgett, a longtime colleague and friend. "But he made sense of that chaos."
A molecular biologist and geneticist who has been described as "master builder of Canadian biomedical science," Siminovitch died this week at 100. "My father was hugely curious. He wanted to know everything about everything, how things worked," said Dr. Kathy Siminovitch, who followed him into the field of genetics and also works at Mount Sinai hospital. "It's hard to imagine any one person who shaped biomedical research in a country as much as my father did in this country." Over the course of his lengthy career, Siminovitch helped establish the Ontario Cancer Institute, the department of genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children, and the Samuel Lunenfeld Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was also the founder and the first chair of the department of molecular genetics at the University of Toronto, then called the department of medical cell biology. "Four times, he played a leadership role where his vision, and understanding of science in the broad sense, allowed him to build departments that turned out to be world-leading," said Dr. Ron Worton, who succeeded Siminovitch as geneticist-in-chief at SickKids in 1985. "To do that... is pretty remarkable." Recruited by Siminovitch in 1971 to work at the hospital, Worton remembers a colleague who was visionary and demanding, and who didn't hesitate to reach out when he thought someone could do better. The group of researchers he brought in, including Worton, went on to identify the genes associated with diseases like cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. "He didn't actively participate in that work, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that none of that would have taken place if he had not hired the group he did," he said.
Woodgett sees his influence similarly — as a leader who brought together top researchers from diverse backgrounds to tease out thorny medical problems. "He's had tremendous influence on encouraging science, particularly in Toronto," said Woodgett. "But he's had an international influence and helped to really establish the importance of genetics, and the treatment of various diseases."
A passion for fostering Canadian theatre Born in Montreal in 1920, Siminovitch attended McGill University, where he met his wife, Elinore. Together, they moved to Paris after the Second World War as he studied at the Pasteur Institute. Struck by the cultural richness of Paris, Elinore went on to become a playwright, and brought to the partnership her passion for the arts. "My parents had an incredibly rich cultural life together," said Kathy Siminovitch, remembering their regular trips to London to take in plays and weekly dates to see movies or go to the theatre. That legacy continues with the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, created to honour him on his 80th birthday. The prize is awarded to Canadian theatre artists at a mid-point in their careers. "The people who I know who won the prize, they all were lifted by it. They worked even harder. And then they put even more creativity, more juice into what they were creating," explained Jillian Keiley, herself a Siminovitch Prize winner in 2004. She is now the artistic director of English theatre at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Over the years, she says, "there's been an impact not just on the individual artists, but on the art they were making… and thus on the entire content of the art that's coming out of Canada." 'It's a great thing to be able to have a connection, great or small, with somebody who had an impact on the world,' said Jillian Keiley, pictured here speaking with Dr. Lou Siminovitch at the prize ceremony in 2017. (Andrew Alexander)
Siminovitch was also a man devoted to his wife, children, and grandchildren — and to living life in balance. Growing up, he was home at 6:00 every night, his daughter remembered, leading wide-ranging dinner conversations that ran from the latest plays her mother had read to her father's newest discovery. Meanwhile, "my dad taught us to skate, to swim, ride a bike," she said. "He was there for us all the time."
In later years, Woodgett and his wife, Caroline, would join Siminovitch for dinner at different King Street restaurants before going to Toronto Symphony Orchestra performances together. "He'd have a little list, a handwritten list," of things he wanted to discuss, Woodgett remembered. "We'd go through it, and we'd always start off with the family. He was always interested. "I think he understood fundamentally what drove people. A lot of people in biomedical research are doing it for a reason, and that's because they want to improve human health."
Kate McGillivray · CBC News · Posted: Apr 10, 2021 6:00 AM ET | Last Updated: April 10 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/dr-lou-siminovitch-the-force-behind-early-genetics-research-in-canada-dies-at-age-100-1.5981522
2: LOU SIMINOVITCH, PhD, DSc, CC, OOnt, FRSC, FRS, Foreign Associate, NAS University Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, Director Emeritus Research, Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute It is with profound sadness that we share the news of Lou's passing after a brief illness on April 6, 2021, in his 100th year. Beloved and deeply missed by his family: Coco and husband Doug Chute, Kathy and husband Michael Miloff, Margo and husband Alan Peterson and his grandchildren, Daniel Johnson and wife Heidi Khoe, Benjamin Johnson and wife Samantha Starek, Eli Miloff, Emma Miloff, Julia Peterson and great-grandson Toby, as well as by his many friends, colleagues and mentees. The family is immensely grateful to family friend Dr. Sandra Donnelly and to his Paramed nurses and his caregivers - Ruth Cimalfranca, Lyn Ticne, and most especially Eunice Gernandizo, who provided such wonderful care to Lou and made it possible for him to remain in the comfort of his home, enjoying visits and calls with close family and friends while surrounded by mountains of books, scientific journals, and paintings and listening to his favourite recordings, most especially Bach's Goldberg Variations. The funeral will be private with a memorial to honour Lou's extraordinary life and contributions to science at a time when it is possible to gather in person. Lou was a devoted father, grandfather and father-in-law, able to both give and receive deep love. At different times in his life, Lou lived in Montreal, Paris, and Toronto and enjoyed his time in each of his home bases. Lou also was an intrepid and inspiring explorer of new places and ideas. In his 99th year he travelled enthusiastically on trips with family to Chicago, New York City and Florida and was looking forward to his next trip to New York. Lou's unquenchable zest for life, determination and adaptability sustained him as his health declined. Even in his 100th year, he regularly went to the office until the pandemic forced him to remain home. Lou's life-long passion was science. He had unlimited intellectual curiosity which extended far beyond any single field of research. Unique in his ability to predict and promote the next frontier of science, he was a pioneer in molecular biology, somatic cell and human genetics and cancer research. He is considered the father of molecular biology in Canada, a towering figure who made critical contributions into the genetic basis of muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis as well as conducting ground-breaking work in the area of stem cell research. As a young researcher he successfully fought for the introduction of peer-reviewed research grants in Canada and played a pivotal role throughout his career advising governments and research agencies with respect to science policy and investment. Fiercely honest and uncompromising in his pursuit of excellence, Lou was a one-off in the world of Canadian science, not buying into the concept of "dayenu." He was a passionate and relentless voice for the support of basic research (well known for expressing his opinions persistently through emails and letters), founding editor of many of the world's leading science journals, the architect of this country's modern research institute, and the mentor of generations of young scientists and medical researchers. He particularly relished fostering talented young people, deriving huge enjoyment from his years of interviewing high school students, more than a half century younger than him, for the Weizmann Institute's summer research program. We shall not see his like again. A Companion of the Order of Canada, Lou received numerous national and international awards and honours (including the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award, the Izaac Walton Killam Memorial Prize, the Flavelle Medal, inductee in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, he was among the few Canadians to be named to the US Academy of Science), but he was most moved by the creation of the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre 20 years ago because this national award also honours his adored late wife Elinore, a playwright. The Prize celebrates their shared commitment to the values of innovation, excellence and mentorship. In memory of Lou, donations can be made to the Siminovitch Prize Foundation www.siminovitchprize.com. Published in The Globe and Mail from Apr. 9 to Apr. 13, 2021. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theglobeandmail/obituary.aspx?pid=198292907
3: SIMINOVITCH, Lou, PhD, DSc, CC, OOnt, FRSC, FRS, Foreign Associate, NAS University. It is with profound sadness that we share the news of Lou's passing after a brief illness on April 6, 2021 in his one-hundredth year. Beloved and deeply missed by his children and their spouses: Coco and Doug Chute, Kathy and Michael Miloff, Margo and Alan Peterson; his grandchildren, Daniel Johnson and Heidi Khoe, Benjamin Johnson and Samantha Starek, Eli Miloff, Emma Miloff, Julia Peterson; by his great-grandson, Toby, as well as by his many friends, colleagues and mentees. The family is immensely grateful to a family friend Dr. Sandra Donnelly and to his Paramed nurses and his caregivers - Ruth Cimalfranca, Lyn Ticne, and, most especially, Eunice Gernandizo, who provided such wonderful care to Lou and made it possible for him to remain in the comfort of his home, enjoying visits and calls with close family and friends while surrounded by mountains of books, scientific journals, and paintings, and listening to his favourite recordings, most especially Bach's Goldberg Variations. The funeral will be private with a memorial to honour Lou's extraordinary life and contributions to science at a time when it is possible to gather in person. Lou was a devoted father, grandfather and father-in-law, able to both give and receive deep love. At different times in his life, Lou lived in Montreal, Paris, and Toronto, and enjoyed his time in each of his home bases. Lou was also an intrepid and inspiring explorer of new places and ideas. In his ninety-ninth year, he travelled enthusiastically on trips with family to Chicago, New YorkCity and Florida, and was looking forward to his next trip to New York. Lou's unquenchable zest for life, determination and adaptability sustained him as his health declined. Even in his one-hundredth year, he regularly went to the office until the pandemic forced him to remain home. Lou's life-long passion was science. He had unlimited intellectual curiosity, which extended far beyond any single field of research. Unique in his ability to predict and promote the next frontier of science, he was a pioneer in molecular biology, somatic cell and human genetics and cancer research. He is considered the father of molecular biology in Canada, a towering figure who made critical contributions into the genetic basis of muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, as well as conducting ground-breaking work in the area of stem cell research. As a young researcher, he successfully fought for the introduction of peer-reviewed research grants in Canada, and played a pivotal role throughout his career advising governments and research agencies with respect to science, policy, and investment. Fiercely honest and uncompromising in his pursuit of excellence, Lou was a one-off in the world of Canadian science, not buying into the concept of "dayenu". He was a passionate and relentless voice for the support of basic research (well-known for expressing his opinions persistently through emails and letters), founding editor of many of the world's leading science journals, the architect of this country's modern research institute, and the mentor of generations of young scientists and medical researchers. He particularly relished fostering talented young people, deriving huge enjoyment from his years of interviewing high school students, morethan a half- century younger than him, for the Weizmann Institute's summer research program. We shall not see his like again. A Companion of the Order of Canada, Lou received numerous national and international awards and honours (including the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award, the Izaac Walton Killam Memorial Prize, the Flavelle Medal, inductee in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, he was among the few Canadians to be named to the US Academy of Science), but he was most moved by the creation of the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre twenty years ago because this national award also honours his adored late wife, Elinore, a playwright. The Prize celebrates their shared commitment to the values of innovation, excellence, and mentorship. In Lou's memory, donations may be made to the Siminovitch Prize Foundation at www.siminovitchprize.com.
1 post by Patrick Mohide In the fall of 1966, I was a young first year medical student at the University of Toronto. I knocked on the office door of Dr Siminovitch. I had been given his name by a friend. I asked him if I could have a job in his research lab. To my surprise, he said that he would hire me as a summer student. For the next two summer breaks in the medical school curriculum, I worked with one of his graduate students, Harvey Eisen, working with Lambda prophage. Every week for two years, Dr Siminovitch gave me private, one hour tutorial sessions in medical microbiology. At the time, I had no real idea of what an incredible privilege that was. At the end of my first year working for him, I brought him a bottle of wine, in thanks, but he refused to accept it. He said that the only way to thank him was to do the same for my future students as he was doing for me. I was both shaken and impressed!
At the end of my second summer, I asked him whether I could come back again for the third summer of my final year in medical school. He said no I could not. He said” You are going to New York”. I spent my final summer at the Public Health Research Institute of the City of New York, learning how to calibrate, operate and run an electron microscope and developing a method of polyacrylamide electrophoresis of vaccinia virus proteins.
Dr Siminovitch had a profound impact on me. His sincerity and integrity provided the perfect model for me to try to emulate for the rest of my career.
4: OBITUARY, Legendary scientist Dr. Louis Siminovitch shaped research in Canada JOHN DIRKS SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL PUBLISHED APRIL 7, 2021 UPDATED APRIL 9, 2021
Dr. Louis Siminovitch was a leading Canadian scientist who made brilliant contributions to cell virology, stem-cell research and genetics. He was also a unique, powerful builder of biomedical science in Toronto, where he had a legendary impact at the University of Toronto and the city’s major hospitals. His influence extended to institutions across Canada and abroad. He mentored hundreds of scientists and helped shape their careers. He influenced government science policy, and development and funding of research like no one else in recent years. While science was his mission, he immersed himself in the arts as well. In all aspects of life, his unmitigated, unapologetic pursuit was excellence.
Most stars dim with age and although Dr. Siminovitch had health problems in the past decade, his opinions on science and scientists were among the most influential in Canada. Ministers of the Crown, billionaire philanthropists and university presidents all sought his counsel. What they received was not always as they hoped; Dr. Siminovitch withheld his approval of pedestrian efforts, but seldom missed kernels of brilliance.
“What distinguishes Lou is he has no compromise on excellence,” long-time colleague Calvin Stiller said. “He literally snorts when he observes mediocrity, he senses bogus in a blink.”
His 100th birthday was widely celebrated with a major tribute in November. Dr. Siminovitch died on April 6, just shy of 101, after an acute bout of pneumonia and its complications.
Louis Siminovitch was born in Montreal in 1920 between May 1 and May 15 – but May 1 was chosen as his official birthday. His father, Nathan, was from Romania and his mother, Goldie (née Wachtman), was the daughter of a prominent rabbi from Russia. They raised four children – Sarah, David, Lou and Mintzie – while living close to the poverty line. There was no time or money for learning or culture. Lou, as he was known for the rest of his life, went to Strathcona Academy High School, where the focus was on leftist politics, baseball and small-time gambling. He was an indifferent student but excelled in mathematics and to his last days revelled in tackling the four fours puzzle.
Entering McGill University in 1937, he chose to study chemistry, receiving his BSc in 1941. Stimulated by a charismatic professor, he entered a PhD program in physical chemistry, graduating in 1944. He met Elinore Faeirman and she agreed to type his thesis. When he received a fellowship to work at the National Research Council in Ottawa, she said they should get married and he agreed. The marriage produced three daughters. As Dr. Siminovitch said repeatedly, “I was fortunate Elinore chose me as her partner and then stuck with me for over 50 years.” She died of lung cancer in 1995.
He spent two years in research at Ontario’s Chalk River Laboratories, using the new radioactive isotopes to study metabolism. This proved to be an ebullient environment with scientists from all over the world including the Italian-born nuclear physicist Bruno Pontecorvo, who later defected to the Soviet Union. All this moulded Dr. Siminovitch’s critical sense of how new technologies allow big scientific questions to be explored.
When the couple returned to Montreal in 1947, the question was what to do next. Dr. Siminovitch had decided to apply his knowledge of chemistry to biology, but he had no training in biology. At a lecture at McGill, Dr. Siminovitch met Louis Rapkine, chef de science of the Pasteur Institute of Paris. Seeking advice as to his next steps in biology, he was invited to join Rapkine’s lab in Paris and become a molecular biologist by apprentice training.
Regrettably, Rapkine died within a year but as often happened to Dr. Siminovitch, despair turned into new opportunity as he was invited by future Nobelists André Lwoff, Jacques Monod and François Jacob into their lab. Dr. Siminovitch had a eureka moment when he was asked to do an experiment to increase viral mutation. In his first experiment, he succeeded in increasing it to 100 per cent from 1 per cent – proving that viral genomes were integral to cell genomes. Dr. Siminovitch reflected, “One experiment from a framework of ignorance was the most seminal of my career.”
Dr. Siminovitch was productive in Paris with about 30 publications, all in French. He was intellectually shaped by his time there. He saw what it meant to do excellent science and to be in a place where every day intensive discussions took place about experiments by the most brilliant scientists. It branded him forever with the principle that nothing less than excellence is good enough.
Dr. Siminovitch and his wife lived very modestly in Paris, but the city was transformative, as it opened their minds to French culture of theatre, music, architecture and the Moulin Rouge. There they began a lifetime practice, led by Ms. Siminovitch, to spend time every week at a concert, a play or reading a challenging book, as well as travelling to see performances at the Stratford and Shaw festivals and abroad. Dr. Siminovitch later said in life he was an outlier in that he was equally at home in the arts, as well as the sciences
The couple resisted an invitation to remain in Paris and in 1953 resettled in Toronto, a city where he would distinguish himself for the rest of his life in science and in leadership – changing his fields of interest every decade. “I have a high mutation rate,” he once said.
In Toronto, he joined Connaught Laboratories and began his scientific career studying viruses.
In 1956, famed University of Toronto histologist Arthur Ham appointed him to the Ontario Cancer Institute, where he established his independent research career with studies on virus replication, cancer biology, stem-cell discovery and genetics. All this led to a life of 200 papers. His exceptional leadership talent quickly became apparent and he was appointed head of biological research.
In 1968, he accepted a call from dean Laurie Chute to chair a new department in the University of Toronto faculty of medicine that incorporated the newer disciplines of immunology and genetics.
A decade later, he became head of genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children, introducing new technologies and ideas by training and recruiting an array of innovative scientists. This resulted in a glorious period of disease-gene cloning like nowhere else in the world, his team establishing the genes and gene defects underpinning cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy among many other genetic diseases. Many of the scientists he mentored over these years became leaders in research institutions across the country.
Dr. Siminovitch was invited by Mount Sinai Hospital in 1985 to found a research centre, now called the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, to investigate the molecular basis of major diseases. He started from scratch and recruited 25 innovative scientists, including biochemist Tony Pawson and developmental biologist Janet Rossant. This endeavour became the magnum opus of his leadership achievements.
Simultaneously, he was the key adviser to the late Joe Rotman in establishing the Baycrest Rotman Research Institute dedicated to neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Siminovitch had a major influence on research development at the University of Toronto to successive deans and presidents. His influence extended to governments, charitable institutions, journals and societies. In building science and institutions, he was the one sought out to lead – he said, “I never applied for any position.”
The recipient of many honours and awards, Dr. Siminovitch was named a companion of the Order of Canada, received the Gairdner Wightman Award, was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and was one of the few Canadians elected to both the Royal Society of London and U.S. National Academy.
He was particularly proud of the Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre honouring his playwright wife and himself. Established by admiring benefactors, it become Canada’s leading theatre prize, annually honouring a professional director, playwright or designer, and a protégé.
Dr. Siminovitch was known for being a visionary and tower of excellence in Canadian science and for being a great mentor, wise career adviser and confidant to many. To someone he deemed a soulmate, he would say, “You are on my chromosome.”
While Dr. Siminovitch was a person of warmth and generous spirit, with friends all over the world, he could also be very critical, with exacting standards and no qualms about disturbing the status quo. He could readily say “he/she had no ideas.” He was a skilled science politician and unafraid to take on government policies if necessary – although he worked very well with Ottawa and at Queen’s Park on the groundbreaking Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund, which initiated translational research.
Dr. Henry Friesen, former president of the Medical Research Council, said, “We can only stand in awe of the profound influence you have had in inspiring so many young scientists, building and developing major institutions and offering decision-makers wise counsel on enriching the funding of research and cultivating a more robust science culture in Canada.”
Dr. Siminovitch admired the great scientists that the Gairdner Awards brought in – for their conceptual brilliance and for their personalities – such as Nobelists Sydney Brenner, Joseph Goldstein and Oliver Smithies.
He was not religious but remained attached to his Jewish roots, attending Yom Kippur services and always moved by the haunting music of Kol Nidre.
Above all, Dr. Siminovitch was committed to building a strong family, something he felt he had not experienced growing up. He said, “I did not know my parents.”
His daughters, Katherine Siminovitch, a physician scientist at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Margo Siminovitch said in a birthday tribute: “The two most powerful influences in our lives were our parents – who lived by the credo that whatever one achieved in life, passion and joy are most important in what one does. And our times together were dominated by vibrant discussions of characters, writers, ideas and of social responsibility.”
Until recently, Dr. Siminovitch would go into his office on most days surrounded by pictures of family, mentors, colleagues and great art. He would voraciously read The Globe and Mail, Science and Nature magazines, novels and biographies.
When friends would visit, he would say, “I am still here,” and recall people and events in his life. He often spoke of the great medical leaders of his time: Evans, Mustard, Brown, Genest and others. He had praise for many of them but not for all. To the end, he worried Canadian science had fallen short of its potential.
In the evenings with friends such as Dr. James and Lynn Friesen, he would attend concerts and, with wonderment, ask, “How could Beethoven come up with 50 completely new musical ideas?”
There were also many lunches, according to former University of Toronto president David Naylor. “The real menu was on his cue card with a list of topics to be discussed,” he said. “It is impossible for me to convey how much I learned from Lou Siminovitch through all those years and how much I owe him.”
“You knew that Lou respected you when you became the object of his criticism,” said Dr. Stiller, the distinguished physician and researcher. “I often received lists of things that I should be doing and also of things that were a waste of my time. To the end Lou insisted on making anything and everyone he encountered better.”
Dr. Siminovitch leaves his daughters, Coco, Katherine and Margo, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
5: Dr. Lou Siminovitch (1920-2021)
April 7, 2021 News and Events It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Dr. Lou Siminovitch.
The following is a message from Siminovitch Prize Laureate John Mighton on what spending time with Lou meant to him.
A great deal has been written about Dr. Lou Siminovitch’s world-changing scientific achievements. I won’t try to add to the discussions about his intellectual work, but I’ll share an observation about an aspect of his character and spirit that became apparent to me in our conversations and in conversations with people who have benefited from the Siminovitch Prize.
Given the scale of his accomplishments, Lou may well have been the most humble person I’ve ever met. And he also had one of the most engaged and curious minds I’ve ever encountered. At Siminovitch Prize celebrations, Lou never spoke about himself or his remarkable accomplishments. He cared more about getting to know the people at the events, and his conversations were animated by a genuine curiosity about how artists work and think and make discoveries.
I believe these two sides of his personality – his deep humility and his intense sense of curiosity – were connected and help explain how a single individual could change so many lives and so many fields of thought for the better.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote “It’s a universal law of education– intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with an arrogant impatience, whereas a truly profound education breeds humility.” I expect that Lou’s natural humility was constantly enhanced by the profound breadth and depth of his experience. And his humility gave him an openness to failure and self-doubt that a person must embrace to gain that experience and to become a great scientist.
Lou and Elinore Siminovitch were both passionate innovators in the arts and sciences and they shared a similar breadth of interests. The award they inspired has given many artists the means and impetus they needed to follow their own curiosity, and to become better artists by constantly learning and taking risks.
In a time when ignorance often holds more sway than science, and when people are driven to act with arrogant impatience, Lou’s character and spirit should give us hope. We have lost someone who exemplifies the kind of thinker and citizen we need now more than ever. But from the outpouring of grief and appreciation that has come with the news of his death, it’s clear that Lou will continue to teach and inspire us even in his passing, and that his example will help us find a way forward.
– John Mighton, 2005 Siminovitch Prize Laureate
You are welcome to add your thoughts and memories in the comments below. These will be shared with the Siminovitch family.
Please also consider joining us for the next Siminovitch Forum honouring Lou and Elinore and the award they inspired.
Key to Creativity: The Intersection Between Art and Science April 29, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET Register here:
Jillian Keiley April 7, 2021 at 11:42 am Here is one of the greatest Canadians who has ever lived. What a gift he was to all of us. Thank you Dr. Siminovitch, for everything.
Bob Philllips April 7, 2021 at 11:51 am Canada has lost a scientist whose contributions influenced all areas of science in Canada. His unique insights and analyses will be missed by all, but his legacy will live on in the scientists he has trained and mentored over his long career. I have lost a good friend and mentor. Lou offered me my first job when I was a post-doc at Princess Margaret Hospital in 1967. He was one of my mentors during my early scientific career and also later when I took on positions in research administrations. We met frequently over the past 30 years to discuss research, research policy as well as personal issues like family. I will greatly miss our discussions.
Janice Stein April 7, 2021 at 11:57 am Lou Siminovitch was a giant in his field. And a wonderful person whose endless curiosity and engaging smile enriched the lives of everyone who came in contact with him. The Siminovitch Prize speaks to the breadth of his commitments and his deep understanding of the threads that connect us all across disciplines. This was a life truly well lived. My heartfelt condolences to his family.
Maiko Yamamoto April 7, 2021 at 12:01 pm Very sad to hear about the passing of Dr. Lou Siminovitch. Although I am a relatively new laureate (2019), being a part of the Siminovitch Prize legacy has meant so much to me, and has continued to bolster my artistic practice throughout a very challenging time for the world and the arts. I will never forget the warmth and kindness of Dr. Lou and the Siminovitch family — it’s the kind of generosity of spirit and genuine interest and support that is rare and illuminating, elevating and deeply inspiring. Thank you, Dr Lou. My heartfelt condolences go out to Kathy and Margo and the entire Siminovitch family and community. Sending love from the west.
Atom Egoyan April 7, 2021 at 12:30 pm My deepest condolences to the Siminovitch Family. You father was a magnificent citizen and an extraordinary human being. He gave so much to the world and I share your tremendous grief at his passing. He was so proud of you and his brilliance and sense of curiosity and passion for advancement will carry on. We have lost a true pioneer and an enduring legend.
sincerely, Atom Egoyan C.C.
Abigail Dionne April 7, 2021 at 12:57 pm Although I am very sad to hear of Dr. Lou Siminovitch’s passing, I am very inspired by the meaningful legacy that he has left in his wife’s honour. May theatre artists and audiences continue to be uplifted by this gift. John Van Burek April 7, 2021 at 1:14 pm Merci, Lou, pour tout ce vous avez faites pour le théâtre au Canada. We are all the beneficiaries of your vision and wisdom. La vie est facile; l’art est difficile. You will be missed in this world where tout le monde a des réponses et pas assez de gens posent des questions. John et Anne Van Burek
Anick La Bissonnière April 7, 2021 at 1:54 pm C’est avec beaucoup de tristesse que j’apprends le départ de M. Siminovitch. Nous perdons un homme généreux, intelligent, exceptionnel pour lequel j’avais beaucoup d’affection. Mes plus sincères condoléances à la famille Siminovitch.
Joel Reitman April 7, 2021 at 2:28 pm We have a lost a Canadian icon. Lou was both a visionary and a facilitator in all he did! Condolences to the entire family…..May our hero rest in peace….
Mieko Ouchi April 7, 2021 at 2:48 pm My deep and heartfelt condolences to the entire Siminovitch Family on the profound loss of this extraordinary man, and to his dear friends, colleagues and the many artists who were touched by Dr. Siminovitch’s knowledge, mentorship, friendship, kindness, support and generosity. He is remembered with enormous admiration and respect.
James Long April 7, 2021 at 3:28 pm What a truly remarkable individual and what an extraordinary life lived. It is so rare and such a gift to have spent time with someone as capable of the clear kindness and generosity of spirit as Lou Siminovitch. All my best wishes to Kathy and Margo and the rest of the Siminovitch family. The legacy you have gifted the arts community is monumental and endlessly affirming.
Ann Connors April 7, 2021 at 3:49 pm My deepest condolences to the Siminovitch family and friends on the loss of this wonderful human being, whose reach was wide and deep. I am grateful to have been able to bear witness to the impact of his contribution to so many incredible artists. He will be missed.
Senator Rob Black April 7, 2021 at 5:47 pm My very sincere condolences to the Siminovitch family. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Siminovitch in the 1990s through the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (ORDCF) and relished every opportunity I had to engage with him. We reconnected years later and our conversation carried on as if no time had passed! He was a remarkable Canadian who will truly be missed! Rest In Peace Lou.
Sue LePage April 7, 2021 at 5:48 pm We are so very lucky to have had Dr Siminovitch among us. His generosity changed our community and his spirit reached out and touched us all. To the family our thanks and love
Jim Woodgett April 7, 2021 at 6:03 pm Lou was a tremendous mentor and will be hugely missed by myself and the many scientists he supported in Toronto and elsewhere. He suffered fools badly and had a level of tenacity that glue makers would die for. He came to his office space at Mount Sinai Hospital through the pandemic to the amazement of none who really knew him. As inaugural director of research, he was the architect of what is now the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, which was today, celebrating the honour of one of its scientists, Dan Drucker, winning a Gairdner International Award (Lou was a recipient of the Gairdner Wightman award in 1981). Lou knew about Dan and was thrilled, as he was about medical research. But he also recognized the equally important influence of art on society and was a prodigious consumer of literature, music and live theatre. Never a man without words and usually without a tie (as the photographs above attest), Lou has left a legacy second to none – in both science and the arts. An amazing Canadian.
Kim Collier April 7, 2021 at 9:40 pm Dear Siminovitch family and community – I am sorry to hear about the passing of Lou. I remember the first time i met Lou Siminovitch and all the times that followed. I was struck by his widening compassion, attentive presence and curiosity for those around him; and i was privileged to fall into his orbit of kindness a few times. It marked a turning point of how i thought about receptions; after meeting Lou, and his family too, i knew receptions can be the sphere where you meet the most wonderful humans. A wonderful human indeed. He will be missed.
Jim Till April 8, 2021 at 1:20 pm A quote from me about Lou is available via the Gairdner Foundation website at: https://gairdner.org/in-memory-of-lou-siminovitch-a-true-mensch/
His many scientific contributions are mentioned, but not the Elinor and Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. My bad.
Elinor and Lou provided an impressive example of how the arts and sciences can complement each other.
Elinor was very talented. My wife Joyce and I agree that she was also one of the nicest people we have ever met.
Sincere condolences to the Siminovitch family.
Jeremy Carver April 8, 2021 at 4:25 pm I am eternally grateful to Lou for his many “interventions”, both direct and more subtle, that profoundly influenced my scientific and subsequent business career. He was a tireless champion for those in whom he believed and we all benefited greatly.
Through my wife Heather’s passion for the theatre we came to know Eleanor and through my conversations with Lou I learned what a powerful force she had been in his life.
We remember you fondly Lou, and offer our sympathy to Kathy and the rest of the family.
Jeremy and Heather
Jennifer Hale April 9, 2021 at 3:51 pm So sorry to learn of Lou’s passing…one of those guys I thought could live forever… Love to Kathy, Eli, Emma and Michael and all the family. Your loss is your own, but he had so much impact, now you must share it with a whole whack of people…That is a pretty cool thing. Really. . Big love to you, and yours xoxo ‘Morah Lucky’
Karen Hines April 9, 2021 at 6:00 pm My deepest condolences to the Siminovitch family, as well as to his community of friends and colleagues. I never met the doctor, but my father was a distant colleague at the University of Toronto during a time of inspired scientific activity, while a burgeoning Canadian arts scene kept pace. My father impressed upon me that Dr. Siminovitch was “a great scientist, but also a very good man” who found connections and parallels between art and science — and was able, remarkably, to advance both.
Karen Hines April 9, 2021 at 7:53 pm My deepest condolences to the Siminovitch family, as well as to his community of friends and colleagues. I never met the doctor, but my father was a distant colleague at the University of Toronto during a time of inspired scientific activity, while a burgeoning Canadian arts scene kept pace. My father impressed upon me that Dr. Siminovitch was “a great scientist, but also a very good man” who found connections and parallels between art and science — and was able, remarkably, to advance both.
Pamela Stanley April 11, 2021 at 4:25 pm I was extremely fortunate to have Lou Siminovitch as my mentor during my postdoctoral fellowship in his lab years ago. His keen insights and astute advice have guided me throughout my scientific career. Lou’s generous and enthusiastic mentorship was for life, I found out, and extended to my husband Richard. We were delighted to host him on occasion during his trips to New York, and to visit with him at Mount Sinai when we came to Toronto. Always on the alert for the unpredictable, and ready with a quizzical and pointed question! Unfortunately, our stay in Toronto was long before the advent of the Siminovitch theater prize. What a great legacy! Our thoughts and deep condolences to the Siminovitch family.
Kelly S. MacDonald April 12, 2021 at 11:52 pm I met Lou Siminovitch 27 years ago when I first applied for a job in Toronto. His advice was blunt, accurate and as timely today as it was then. He passed this skill on to his daughter Katherine who became a trusted colleague and friend. In recent years, our chats focused more on his voracious reading habits – incredibly diverse. I was always struck by his humility and self-deprecating humor. He taught us all a lot about loving life!
6: In Memoriam: Lou Siminovitch, Seminal Figure in the Establishment of the Rotman Research Institute (RRI) APRIL 11, 2021 Baycrest mourns the passing of one of the fathers of the RRI, Dr. Louis Siminovitch, who passed away last week. Dr. Siminovitch was an outstanding Canadian scientist who made a number of important discoveries in the fields of genetics and molecular biology. He had a major influence on research at Baycrest through his friendship with the late Joseph Rotman, namesake of our Rotman Research Institute. Rotman, in consultation with Dr. Siminovitch, decided that setting up a research institute focused on age-related cognitive problems would be appropriate for Baycrest, and would complement other types of research in Toronto. Once the RRI was established, Dr. Siminovitch continued to influence the evolution of the institute with his deep knowledge of science and of science policy. A warm and caring individual, Dr. Siminovitch also insisted on maintaining the highest standards for the RRI. To read more about his life and accomplishments, please click here. Baycrest extends its sympathies to the family and loved ones of Dr. Siminovitch, and to all who had the pleasure and honour of working with him. Published in: https://www.baycrest.org/Baycrest-Pages/News-Media/News/Baycrest/In-Memoriam-Lou-Siminovitch
We Are Celebrating With Dr. Louis Siminovitch; The Founder Of Our Department And Father Of Genetics Research In Canada CONTRIBUTED BY MOGEN GRADUATE STUDENTS SABRINA HYDE AND LAURA HERGOTT siminovitch.jpg As the Molecular Genetics 50th Anniversary Symposium approaches, we have been reflecting on the rich history of the department’s early beginnings and all of the inspiring individuals who have made it the world-renowned program it is today. It would be impossible for us not to highlight Dr. Louis “Lou” Siminovitch, a great and influential force in Canadian biomedical science, who founded the Department in 1969 under the name of Medical Cell Biology at the University of Toronto.
In April, we were very fortunate to share about an hour of Dr. Siminovitch’s time, and ask him about some of his perspectives on the department he founded 50 years ago. We met him at his office in Mount Sinai Hospital where he spends his time consulting as the Director Emeritus of LTRI and keeping up to date on current science. He warmly welcomed us, and was eager to share his thoughts. We originally planned our interview to focus on the history of the Department, and we were extremely pleased that Lou wanted to share both personal as well as professional anecdotes after he moved to Toronto in 1953.
In addition to his role at U of T, Dr. Siminovitch played a leadership role in the establishment of the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI) and the Department of Genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children and founded and was the first Director of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Institute (LTRI) at Mount Sinai Hospital. In addition to his leadership roles, he has authored over 200 publications in a variety of scientific fields including bacterial and animal virus genetics, human genetics, and cancer research. His pursuit of excellence led him to receive many awards and honorary degrees, including the Izaac Walton Killam Memorial Prize and the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award. He was also promoted within the Order of Canada to Companion in 1989, an honour recognizing outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation. The importance of Lou’s contributions to science is evidenced by the international honours he has received, most notably being named a Fellow, Royal Society (London) (F.R.S.) and a foreign associate to the US National Academy of Sciences.
We asked Dr. Siminovitch about the origins of the department of Medical Genetics in 1969. At the time, he was fully enjoying his position as head of the Biology group at the OCI when Lawrence (Laurie) Chute, the Dean of U of T’s Faculty of Medicine, invited him to move to the campus to develop and become the first head of a new department, Medical Genetics. There was some discontent about his appointment by others in the medical school who felt “We do not need a genetics department because it is not relevant to medical care” and that Lou might be an inappropriate recruit as he had “not trained in Toronto, only in Europe.” However, Lou rapidly grew his team of scientists and the department quickly gained international recognition. We could see on his face how proud he was of the quick progress he and his colleagues made. He made sure to recognize and to emphasize the quality of the scientists who laid the foundation for the Department’s research success: “We became recognized very quickly… not because of me, but because of the people we recruited... no-one in the country was doing our kind of work" and people wanted to be here as they understood that genetics was the science of the future.” As described above, Dr. Siminovitch served many leadership roles at the U of T and he was instrumental in mentoring several generations of scientists. He continues to influence the scientific community today.
Although Dr. Siminovitch’s scientific achievements are many and his influence on science in Canada is extraordinary, our conversation was dominated by his thoughts on his family. He highlighted how important it was to him to balance family life with his work, which was a difficult concept at the time (and still is) for many dedicated scientists. He spoke of his three daughters, his grandchildren, and his newborn great-grandchild. And he spoke most fondly of his late wife Elinore, who “kept [him] in check”, and made sure he was home for dinner every night, even if he went back to work after he sat down with his family. The overwhelming amount of love and admiration he had for her was made apparent when speaking with Dr. Siminovitch. Elinore was a playwright and loved the theatre, literature and the arts in general. Lou explained “I was focused on my science, but she got me involved in the world of the arts and humanities.” One of the reasons the young couple settled in Toronto to raise their family was for the rich culture it provided; “every Friday [Lou] had to be home,” and “[they] went out”, enjoying what the city had to offer. In addition to the portraits of “[his scientific] mentors…”, including French scientist and humanist Louis Rapkine and Canadian scientist Arthur Ham, displayed in his office at LTRI, there are also many artistic prints. Lou remarked that it is due to the influence of Elinore, that his office walls are decorated with prints of works by Modigliani, Chagall, Monet, Kollwitz and Giacometti.
In our short visit, Dr. Siminovitch shared many sides of himself, not only the distinguished scientist, but also the newcomer, the leader, the dedicated husband, and mentor to many. We truly had a wonderful time being able to share many laughs and fascinating stories with him.
We are happy that Lou will join us at the symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the department he played such a crucial role in founding.
Please join us and Lou in celebrating 50 years on May 31st 2019! Published in: http://www.moleculargenetics.utoronto.ca/siminovitch