Tributes poured in following the death of the founder of the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM), Dr. Jacques Genest. Not only was Dr. Genest a prolific researcher in the field of hypertension, he helped create organizations that support the growth of research in Quebec. They include the Conseil de recherches médicales du Québec – which would later become the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, the Département de recherches cliniques de l’Hôtel-Dieu, and of course, the IRCM.
Upon receiving the Armand-Frappier Award in 1996, Dr. Genest declared that in order to be a mentor or a leader, one must be generous. According to Dr. Tarik Möröy, President and Scientific Director of the IRCM, no one embodied that notion better than Dr. Genest himself. “In addition to being an outstanding scientist and visionary, he was a towering and determined intellectual with an uncanny sense of humour, always conscious of the importance of personal relationships,” Dr. Möröy explains. “Dr. Genest gave the IRCM a very specific identity, and as a result, all members of our community have a unique sense of belonging to it. As President and Scientific Director, I am proud his vision has been upheld by every IRCM leader.”
Dr. Pierre Duplessis, Chairman of the IRCM Board of Directors, points to Dr. Genest's research capabilities. “In addition to his collaboration putting Montreal on the map in biomedical research, Dr. Genest’s work on hypertension contributed even more directly towards this aim,” says Dr. Duplessis. “Training the next generation of scientists was also very dear to him. He was keen to create favourable conditions for the generations of Quebec researchers surrounding him, and to give those who followed in his footsteps the resources and environment to foster a career that lives up to their potential.”
André Couillard, President of the IRCM Foundation, emphasized Dr. Genest’s audacity given that the principle on which the Institute was built – the combination of laboratory and hospital research – was an unusual gamble at the time of its creation in 1967. "Suffice to say, Dr. Genest won his bet,” says Mr. Couillard. “In 50 years, thanks to leading research centres such as the IRCM, life expectancy increased significantly, and certain once-fatal diseases are now treatable through primary care. These achievements show the importance of supporting leaders like Dr. Genest. He bequeathed to us a world-renowned institution founded upon scientific know-how and clinical research.”
Dr. Genest passed away on January 5 at the age of 98. In accordance with his wishes, Dr. Genest’s funeral was held in a ceremony reserved for family and close friends on January 12.