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Passing of Jacques Genest

It is with great sadness that the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) learned of the passing of Dr. Jacques Genest, founder and first president of the Conseil de recherches médicales (1964–1969), which would become the FRQS.

A true pioneer in health research in Québec, Dr. Genest is among the Québecers who have made the most significant contributions to the advancement of biomedical research. The province’s first full-time paid clinical researcher, he also founded the research unit at Hôtel-Dieu hospital, which he led from 1952 to 1957, and the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, which he headed from 1967 to 1984.

Dr. Genest authored over 700 papers and three books and made several decisive discoveries in the field of hypertension, specifically by shedding new light on sodium and aldosterone disturbances, the role of angiotensin II in aldosterone secretion control, the measurement of renin activity in plasma and its significance in the diagnosis of renovascular hypertension and the atrial natriuretic factor. The multi-drug treatment for hypertension he recommended now helps control high blood pressure in the vast majority of patients.

He received over 50 awards and honours, including the Gairdner Award, Prix Marie-Victorin, Stouffer Prize, Killam Prize and Prix Armand-Frappier. Dr. Genest also earned twelve honorary doctorates and was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and appointed an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec and a Companion of the Order of Canada.

“The FRQS owes its existence to Dr. Jacques Genest, and I would like to pay special tribute to him. A pioneer and visionary, in the early 1960s, he already understood how important it was for Québec to create a tool to support research training and young researchers embarking on their academic careers and the significance of developing research by fostering its expansion within hospitals, from patients’ bedsides,” affirmed Rémi Quirion, Québec’s chief scientist and chairman of the board of directors of the FRQS.

“By creating the first funding agency, Québec was responding to the key issue of the time: ensuring that young researchers could quickly start their careers and compete in Canadian and international competitions. Today, overall, they earn nearly 30% of the research grants awarded in Canada and even 40% in areas such as neuroscience and ageing, despite the fact that their national demographic weight is only 23%. While there is still some way to go, Québec has made great strides in the past 50 years, due in no small part to Dr. Genest’s visionary and pioneering leadership,” added Serge Marchand, scientific director of the FRQS.

On behalf of the members of Québec’s health research community, we would like extend our deepest condolences to Dr. Genest’s family and friends.