McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Dr. Peter Dent wraps up role as associate vice-president

Published: July 5, 2012
Peter Dent
Peter Dent, professor emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics

Peter Dent was a physician scientist finishing a fellowship at the University of Minnesota in 1968 when he was being recruited to the University of Manitoba by Alvin Zipursky.

Dent found out, however, that Zipursky was heading out of Winnipeg himself to become the first chair of pediatrics at a brand new medical school at McMaster University. Dent followed, becoming one of the first pediatric scientists for what was to become the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

"The all-star cast of academics and the cream of the crop of community practitioners, along with the revolutionary curriculum and seemingly limitless resources for my research, made it clear I had to come to McMaster," he says now.

The University of Toronto graduate worked as a bench researcher with a focus on immunology and cancer on a team including John Bienenstock, Jack Gauldie, Jerry Dolovich and Bill Rawls, and their work became notable for its international impact on the field of immunology.

It was after his one sabbatical, a year spent at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in Lausanne, Switzerland along with his wife Diane and three daughters, that his career took another turn. He became chair of the Department of Pediatrics from 1981 to 1990, leading the development of the McMaster Children’s Hospital.

"Establishing the Children’s Hospital was truly a learning experience and, at the same time, a loss of innocence and idealism — mine," he says with a chuckle.

Beyond academic and administrative successes for the university and hospital, he also spearheaded the construction of Hamilton’s Ronald McDonald House where families of pediatric patients could stay. For these achievements he was later inducted into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction.

Dent served as vice-president, medicine for Chedoke McMaster Hospitals and then director of research for Hamilton Health Sciences from 1990 to 1997. He became associate vice-president, clinical services for the Faculty of Health Sciences in 2002. His legacy accomplishment as AVP is the negotiation with the provincial government and management of alternative funding plans for Hamilton academic physicians.

Throughout his career he has been an active clinician in pediatric rheumatology.

He has received many awards for his local, Canadian and international contributions of excellence in teaching and patient care in pediatric rheumatology. In 2004 he became one of the few Canadians to be named a Master of the American College of Rheumatology. This year he received the Alan Ross Award, the most prestigious honour awarded by the Canadian Pediatric Society for lifelong excellence in the fields of pediatric research, education, healthcare and advocacy.

At 76, he is not yet retiring. The professor emeritus will continue to manage the Hamilton AFPs for the rest of the year, and he intends to continue to practice as a pediatric rheumatologist and immunologist.

"It has been a rich, stimulating, often challenging and always rewarding professional experience," he says.

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