Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

“Wherever he has been needed, Jacques Genest has gone.”

© Irma Coucill and the CMHF
1994 Inductee

Dr. Jacques Genest

Born: 
May 29, 1919 (Montréal, Québec)
Education: 
MD - University of Montreal; Harvard University
Heralded as one of the giants of 20th century medicine, the name Jacques Genest has become synonymous with pioneering advances in clinical research and the study of hypertension. His research team’s exploration of the roles of the adrenal gland and kidney eventually led to the discovery of ANF (atrial natriuretic factor), a heart hormone found to be a central factor in the body’s control of water, salt and blood pressure, advanced our understanding of the causes and management of hypertension.

Early in his career, the Quebec government tasked Dr. Genest with investigating the methods of European research centres. Inspired by their multi-disciplinary approach, Dr. Genest returned to Quebec and established his first laboratory at Hôtel-Dieu. His objective was to bring together scientists and researchers from various fields while supporting the training and development of clinical researchers, as modelled by his European counterparts.

In 1964, he became Director of the Department of Medicine at the University of Montreal and Dean of Medicine at McGill University, garnering the support he needed to establish the Centre médical Claude-Bernard in 1967. Known today as the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, this institute persists as a leading research centre with five research divisions, including a Bioethics Research Centre inaugurated by Dr. Genest, that is recognized internationally as an authority on the social and ethical aspects of medicine.
 
A career advocate for the important role of strong clinical research in the advancement of medicine, Dr. Genest mentored hundreds of medical researchers, encouraging many to obtain postgraduate degrees and to continue in careers of clinical research. His impact on medicine in Quebec, throughout Canada and internationally has been recognized with various accolades and awards, including twelve honorary degrees.