McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Man of action sought solution to motion stopping disease

Stoney Creek firm endows McMaster research chair in memory of founder

Published: March 23, 2006
Andrew Bruce Douglas
Andrew Bruce Douglas

A chemical engineer, Andrew Bruce Douglas was the founder of Bartek Ingredients Inc. and known as a man of action, a problem-solver. When he died in 2004 of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), he was unable to speak, move, or even close his eyes.

Today, McMaster University, officials of the Stoney Creek company and Mr. Douglas’ wife Carol celebrated his life and the creation of an endowed chair in ALS research at McMaster. Dr. John Turnbull, a professor of medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and a renowned researcher of the disease, is the inaugural recipient of the Andrew Bruce Douglas Chair in Neurology. The endowment was donated by Bartek in memory of its founder.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease which causes a person to lose control over their muscles.

Carol Douglas

Andrew Douglas first met Dr. John Turnbull, a neuroscientist at McMaster University involved in basic research as well as clinical trials looking for cures for this disease in his McMaster clinic in May 2003.

His wife Carol says that during the 13 months that Andrew lived he was treated with both compassion and realism by Dr. Turnbull and his staff. "Andrew saw himself primarily as a problem solver, an oblique thinker, and was intrigued by the University’s problem-solving approach. I can’t thank the directors of Bartek enough, for making this gift to McMaster in Andrew’s memory. Andrew would have appreciated being part of the solution for the biggest problem he had ever faced."

Peter George, president of McMaster University, said: "Andrew was neither a McMaster student, nor a member of the McMaster faculty, but he will forever be very much a part of the McMaster family. It is a family bound together by the threads of discovery and by the spirit of innovation.

Together, this gift of great generosity and the appointment of a new research chair will power our first exciting steps on a path of discovery that we believe will change lives and ultimately contribute to creating solutions where now there is only frustration and inevitably death."

Approximately 3,000 Canadians live with ALS. Two to three Canadians a day die of ALS. Dr. Turnbull opened the McMaster ALS clinic in 1992.

Dr. John Turnbull, inaugural recipient of the Andrew Bruce Douglas Chair in Neurology

"It is hard to offer hope to patients with an incurable disease, but with the support and generosity of Bartek and Mrs. Douglas we will endeavour to develop new treatment strategies to combat the terrible symptoms of ALS", said Dr. Turnbull.

"We have already seen some success with drug therapies in some small clinical trials but we have such a long way to go. No one survives this disease."

Dr. Turnbull has been active in raising the profile and need for support for ALS research and patient issues with governments at provincial and national levels.

"It is hard to attract government research money when there are diseases, like heart disease and cancer, which affect a higher proportion of Canadians. That’s why support from corporations and individuals is so very important," he said.

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