100 Years of the Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor & Chair of Medicine: A Timeline

  1. Future is beautiful

Introduction Text

DoM 100th Anniversary“The Department of Medicine is the soul of a teaching hospital...”

Professor Edward Shorter, Hannah Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Toronto, Partnership for Excellence

Help us populate our timeline. Click here to add milestones from your division, speciality, hospital and colleagues, or email them to dom.communications@utoronto.ca



The re-establishment of the Faculty of Medicine

Medicine and surgery are central from the beginning. There are Professors of Medicine, and every teaching hospital has a Department of Medicine.




Dr. Alexander McPhedran is Professor and Head of Clinical Medicine, as well as Chief of Medical Services at Toronto General Hospital

Dr. McPhedran supports training general physicians and was one of a group of scientifically-oriented faculty as the medical school was being re-established.



A template for modern medical education

The Flexner Report becomes a template for modern medical education, shifting the focus from clinical observation to science. The report criticizes the virtual absence of research based on scientific methods and of full-time clinical faculty members.



The report’s recommendations were enthusiastically embraced by Dr. William Goldie
A member of the Department of Medicine and a highly respected clinician at Toronto General Hospital, Dr. Goldie quickly realizes the need for philanthropic support to facilitate the appointment of a full-time Professor and to propel the medical school into the era of scientific medicine.



A momentous gift

Dr. Goldie persuades two of his patients, Sir John and Lady Flora Eaton, to donate $500,000 – equivalent to $6.7 million in 2019 – to create the first endowed Chair at the University of Toronto.


The first Professor of Clinical Medicine

Dr. Duncan Graham becomes the first Professor of Clinical Medicine. He immediately begins to reorganize the Departments of Medicine at both the University and Toronto General Hospital to create a modern academic department.





Insulin: Toronto’s gift to the world

Frederick Banting, Charles Best, physiology professor JJR Macleod and visiting Alberta biochemist James Collip attend the annual conference of the American Physiological Society in New Haven, where Banting reports on their pancreatic extract, then called “Isletin.” The first injections are given to a patient at the Toronto General Hospital in 1922, and by 1924 insulin becomes widely available to people with diabetes.




Dr. Graham established the first diabetes clinic at Toronto General Hospital.



University Board of Governors officially names Professor position the Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of Medicine.

Lady Eaton is second from right. Pictured at the 1947 convocation.





Dr. Ray F. Farquharson succeeds Duncan Graham as Chair

For the next 13 years the Department grows substantially. By 1961 the teaching staff expands from 47 to 107 and medical teaching expands to St. Michael’s Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital.






Dr. Colin Woolf joins the Department of Medicine

Among the first physicians and scholars of Jewish origin to join the Department of Medicine, Dr. Woolf pioneered the creation of the Respirator Failure Unit at Toronto General Hospital, now known as the Medical Intensive Care Unit






Dr. F. Marguerite Hill becomes the first woman to be Chief Medical Resident

Her position initially bothered classmates because “there had never been a girl, a woman, on staff” (Partnership for Excellence, 573). In 1958, she joined the Department of Medicine, in 1965 became the second woman to be Physician in Chief at Women’s College Hospital and in 1968 she was promoted to Professor.





The Department of Medicine expands

By the end of Dr. Keith Wightman’s term as Chair, there are over 100 full-time members in the Department. Mount Sinai Hospital, Sunnybrook Hospital, and Women’s College Hospital become fully affiliated teaching hospitals, and Princess Margaret Hospital is incorporated into postgraduate training in Internal Medicine.




Dr. John Evans, a cardiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and associate in the Department of Medicine is recruited to be the founding Dean of Medicine at McMaster University.




Dr. Jack Laidlaw establishes the Institute of Medical Science

The MSc and PhD programs are designed to train academic physicians in basic and clinical research




“The first new clinical department in the Faculty of Medicine in modern times”

Originally part of the Department of Medicine, the Department of Family and Community Medicine becomes its own freestanding department dedicated to teaching family medicine





The Medical Sciences Building is completed

Located on the University of Toronto campus, the building provides the Department of Medicine with access to excellent research laboratories.





The Department transforms into a hub of flourishing scientific investigation

During Dr. Charles H. Hollenberg’s time as Chair, the Department recruits a large cohort of well-trained clinician-scientists. By the end of the 1980s, the Department becomes one of the strongest researchbased clinical departments in Canada and internationally.






Dr. Michael Gordon, a geriatrician in the Department of Medicine, becomes the first certified Canadian Geriatrician at a time when Geriatric Medicine was a new sub-specialty. “No. 1” is noted on the Specialist Certificate from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.



Dr. Tak Mak discovers T-cell receptors, which were considered at the time to be the “Holy Grain of Immunology.” This was a major breakthrough in cancer immunology as the field of research within cancer medicine was rapidly expanding.


1987 – 2015

Four Deans of Medicine in a row hail from the Department of Medicine. These are Drs. John Dirks (1987-1992), Arnold Aberman (1992-1999) David Naylor (1999-2005) and Catharine Whiteside (2005-2015).



The Eaton Chair remains in the Department of Medicine

Following the merger of Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital, Dr. Arnie Aberman becomes the first Eaton Chair to no longer simultaneously be Physician in Chief of Toronto General Hospital. This change reflects the significance of the Eaton Chair’s endowment as a gift to the University of Toronto.







Dr. David Naylor is co-founder the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), is a not-for-profit research institute encompassing a community of research, data and clinical experts, and a secure and accessible array of Ontario's health-related data.



Dedicated training for clinician-scientists

Dr. Eliot Phillipson is instrumental in forming the Clinician Scientist Training Program to develop clinicians with PhD-level research training.








Dr. Daniel Drucker identifies GLB-2 as a therapeutic treatment for Short Bowel Syndrome, the first therapy approved for long-term use.



Dr. Chung-Wai Chow becomes the first graduate of the Clinician Scientist Training Program.

One of only a few researchers studying the effects of air pollutants and toxins on the transplanted lung, Dr. Chow has leveraged her research findings to increase awareness of the importance of common lung disease to the general public, policy makers and allied health professionals.



“Dr. Peter St George-Hyslop develops a vaccine that prevents Alzheimer's disease in mice and advances our understanding of dementia.”





The first woman Chair and Professor of Medicine

In the Chair of Medicine’s 85 years of existence, Dr. Wendy Levinson becomes the first woman to hold the position of Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of Medicine.





Dr. Catharine Whiteside, a Professor of Medicine at University of Toronto, becomes Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. She is the first female Dean of Medicine at U of T and held the position until 2015.



“Dr. Jack Tu and the Canadian Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Team create a national Atlas of heart health, pinpointing regions where the disease is most widespread, the kind of care available and the associated outcomes.”






“Dr. Tony Lam discovers a new signalling pathway between the gut, the brain and the liver that lowers blood sugar when activated, creating the possibility of new treatments for people with diabetes.”




The Department of Medicine: A catalyst, multiplier, facilitator

Dr. Gillian Hawker is appointed Chair. Under her leadership, equity, inclusion and diversity are highlighted as priorities. In 2017, the Department of Medicine hosts the first annual Summit for Women in Academic Medicine.



Dr. Wendy Levinson (2004-2014) launches Choosing Wisely Canada to start a national conversation between clinicians and patients about the harms of unnecessary tests and treatments.



Dr. Kamran Khan publishes a letter in The Lancet that highlights the emerging threat of the Zika virus across the Americas. Using big data and risk assessment models, Dr. Khan and his team at BlueDot predicts an outbreak in Florida six months before it occurs.



ICES celebrates its 25th anniversary. Among its top 25 cited publications, 20 are authored by Department of Medicine faculty members.




Dr. Frances Shepherd receives the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award “for her global leadership in oncology which has contributed significantly to improving survival outcomes of lung cancer patients worldwide.” 


Dr. Marzyeh Ghassemi is recruited from MIT and Google to the Departments of Medicine and Computer Science to bring understanding on how to apply machine learning can be applied to healthcare and clinical decision-making. 

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