McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Professor leaves legacy of medical history

Published: June 17, 2009
Charles Roland
Dr. Charles (Chuck) Roland, professor emeritus and the first Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Roland, 76, professor emeritus and the first Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine at McMaster University, passed away Wednesday, June 10 in hospice care, surrounded by family.

Dr. Roland joined McMaster as a professor of medicine in 1977, and taught in both the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Department of History until his retirement in 1998.

Before joining McMaster, Dr. Roland had a career as a family physician, a medical journal editor and as an historian. Trained at the University of Manitoba, he was a family doctor in the Ontario towns of Tillsonburg and Grimsby before moving to the U.S. in 1964 as senior editor of the Journal of American Medical Association. He joined the faculty of the new Mayo Medical School and was chair of the Department of Biomedical Communications.

Dr. Roland became a central figure in the establishment of medical history in Canada and founder of the history of medicine program at McMaster. He became renowned for his work on many medical journals, and as an author or editor of 33 books and more than 500 articles.

He specialized on medical history, particularly Canadian, on a variety of topics ranging from Canadian physician Sir William Osler to military medicine during both the First World War and the Second World War. He received many awards for his work, including an honorary degree from his alma mater.

"Chuck mentored countless medical students and inspired fellow faculty members," said David Wright, who currently holds the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine. "He was a major figure in medical history and his books on the Warsaw Ghetto and the medical treatment of prisoners of war in Hong Kong won numerous prizes. 

"Above all, however, Chuck will be remembered fondly by his colleagues as a generous man of good humour and intellectual integrity."

He leaves his wife Connie along with six children and several grandchildren. A celebration of Charles’ life is planned for the summer 2010.

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