McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Famed MD grad dies

Published: February 12, 2013
Clyde Hertzman
Dr. Clyde Hertzman, MD '79

Dr. Clyde Hertzman, MD ’79, who was an expert in early learning, has died suddenly at age 59.

He had recently been awarded the Order of Canada for the central role he played in creating a framework linking population health to human development, and emphasizing the special role of early childhood development as a determinant of health. He had three degrees and his residency in community medicine from McMaster.

He was director of the Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia, and a professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health which he joined in 1985.

"His wonderful ability to energize and excite so many people in different walks of life was electric," said Jean Clinton, McMaster associate professor of psychiatry and a colleague of Hertzman. "He was a man with pristine academic thinking. He changed the way we view how children grow and are affected by the world around them. Even with all his accolades, he was a wonderful, humble man who took great delight in his friends and colleagues."

Another McMaster colleague, Magdalena Janus, associate professor of psychiatry, added: "Clyde Hertzman was a man of an insatiable curiosity and a gift to pass this curiosity to his students and colleagues. He was a classic example of a scientist who, when he answers one question, comes up with three new ones to follow.

"Clyde had a unique ability to make connections between many fields, some of which did not even used to be thought as relevant to child development, and make us understand what matters.  He had an unparalleled ability to transform complex research knowledge into small, important, meaningful nuggets of wisdom," she said. "He has left a huge void as a colleague, a friend, a mentor, and a world-respected advocate for children's rights and freedom to healthy development."

"Clyde was one of the first people I met when I arrived at McMaster over 30 years ago," said Stephen Walter, a professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. "His engaging personality, wit, and insightful comments on matters scientific marked him out as an outstanding student and research collaborator. Early signs of his subsequent distinguished career were evident even then."

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