McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Medical school founder Fraser Mustard dies

Published: November 17, 2011
J. Fraser Mustard
J. Fraser Mustard, MD, one of the founders of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University. [Larger image]

J. Fraser Mustard, MD, one of the founders of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, has died. He was 84.

Mustard joined the Faculty of Health Sciences in 1966, after being recruited from the University of Toronto by his friend John Evans, the first dean of the medical school. Mustard was the first chair of pathology and established medical research at the fledgling school. In his personal research program, he was world-renowned for his work on blood platelets, vessel injury and the effect of aspirin.

He was also deeply involved in developing the innovative medical school education program with small group, problem-based learning: A radical change in the way to train physicians that has been adopted as a model around the world.

From 1972 to 1982 he was dean and vice-president of the Faculty, and during that time he was responsible for the School of Nursing, assisting in the development of nursing at Aga Khan University in Pakistan. His influence extended beyond McMaster with contributions to research and health-care policy.

"Fraser Mustard was a powerhouse intellectual. He was a dynamic personality who as a physician-scientist founded McMaster's medical research program so it has become one of the largest in the country and a magnet for Canada's best," said John Kelton, dean and vice-president of McMaster University's Faculty of Health Sciences. "Fraser was also an educator who made an outstanding difference in our understanding of the importance of childhood development. He will be missed."

In 1982, Mustard founded the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. As its president for 14 years, he brought together interdisciplinary teams of national and international distinguished researchers to explore important scientific and social issues.

In 1999, his mission changed to examine the crucial importance of a child’s experiences in the first six years of life. That year he co-authored the Early Years Study for the Ontario government, and he became a tireless advocate of the importance of early brain development for health, behaviour, learning and quality of life.

He received many awards and honorary degrees, including the Gairdner International Award and the William J. Dawson Medal of the Royal Society of Canada. He was a companion of the Order of Canada and a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

He is memorialized at McMaster as a member of the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Community of Distinction, and he has an endowed chair in health research named after him. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario / J. Fraser Mustard Chair in Cardiovascular Research is currently held by professor of medicine Jeffrey Weitz.

Mustard was predeceased by his wife Betty and he is survived by his six children and nine grandchildren.


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