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In memoriam: Nathan Kaufman

In memoriam: Nathan Kaufman

[In Memoriam]

Dr. Nathan Kaufman (Professor Emeritus, Pathology and Molecular Medicine), and the son of immigrants who rose to head the world’s largest pathology research organization, died on May 11, 2016 in Toronto. He was 100.

Nathan was born Aug. 3, 1915, in Lachine, Quebec, to Anna and Solomon Kaufman, shop-owners and a housepainter who had fled Riga and Odessa. He overcame quotas limiting the number of Jewish students at McGill and its medical school, graduating in 1941.

Nathan served as a captain in the Canadian Army Medical Corps from 1942-45 and was mentioned in dispatches and honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire, for bravery under fire.

After the war, he trained in pathology at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. He met Rita Friendly, an X-ray technician, and they married in 1946. Their relationship was one of respect, devotion, shared intellectual and cultural pleasures, and sheer love until her death in 2006.

Nathan began his academic career at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio in 1948. From 1961-67, he was professor of pathology at Duke University in Durham, N.C. In 1967, they moved to Kingston, where he chaired pathology at Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital. He served as executive director of the US-Canadian Academy of Pathology from 1979-85 in Augusta, GA; they returned to Kingston in 1994. Rita died there in 2006; he moved to Toronto in 2008.

Nathan’s research focused on iron metabolism. His colleagues spoke of him as a major force in the improvement of pathology research and clinical work, and of his meticulous and evenhanded leadership and mentorship. He was editor of Laboratory Investigation and later founded and edited Modern Pathology, the journal of the International Academy of Pathology. He leaves children Naomi (Steve), Michael (Betty), Miriam (Roberta), Hannah (Mary), and Judith (Neil); grandchildren Liam (Lisa), Jacob, Aviva, Jazz, and Chloe, and great-grandchildren Nathan, Jaxen, Gemma and Grant, as well as friends and relatives he cared deeply about. His sister and brother died earlier.

To the end, he remained intellectually curious, with an astounding memory and gentle demeanour. A man full of grace, he thought first about others. He delighted in life, yet was realistic about death.

If you wish to make a donation in his memory: Nathan established the Dr. Nathan Kaufman Service-Learning Fund at Queen’s University to assist medical and health-sciences students to engage in community service to learn about the importance of justice and equity when working with vulnerable populations. www.givetoqueens.ca/nathankaufman

If you have memories of Dr. Kaufman you would like to share, please email review@queensu.ca.

[cover of Alumni Review 2016 Issue 3]