CIHR mourns the loss of Joseph L. Rotman

It was with much sadness that we at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) learned of the passing of a friend and a passionate advocate of health science and innovation, Joseph L. Rotman, on January 27, 2015.

Mr. Rotman, an accomplished businessman and philanthropist, was a member of CIHR's very first Governing Council and ultimately served two terms in service of our organization (2000-2006). During these formative years of CIHR, he was indispensable in helping the organization build the strategies necessary to give shape and structure to an enormous new mandate for health research and health system innovation. His business acumen and vision, as well as his strong commitment to promoting and advancing Canadian life sciences research left an indelible mark on CIHR.  

Mr. Rotman's accomplishments and leadership in the field of health research go far beyond his many contributions to CIHR. He had the unique ability for building the infrastructure necessary to conduct research and transferring that research into commercially viable ventures. He will be remembered as the co-founder of the Medical and Related Sciences (MaRS) Discovery District, Chair of the Ontario Brain Institute, and for his leadership roles with the StemCell Network and the Ontario Brain Initiative. At the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, he helped to create the Rotman Research Institute to conduct research on cognitive neuroscience. 

It is also important to note Mr. Rotman's incredible contributions to global health. He fully embraced the belief that good health must be equitable. And, he was deeply convinced of the value and power of health as a driver of social and economic change. In Canada and worldwide, he will be remembered as an important catalyst for global health initiatives to respond to this belief and to achieve these goals. At the University Health Network, he co-founded the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre to conduct research on malaria as well as ethics and commercialization in the area of global health. He also served as Chair of Grand Challenges Canada.

In all of these pursuits, Mr. Rotman's instincts were his greatest strength. He had an innate sense of what was needed – the ability to focus on the vital challenges and to find creative ways to resolve them. The fact that he chose to spend so much time and energy working with organizations such as CIHR, also speaks to his profound commitment to public service. Those who had the pleasure of meeting and working with him were struck by his selflessness, and his lifelong commitment to nurturing leadership at all levels and in all spheres. The long-term benefits of these actions will be felt for generations to come.

On behalf of Canada's health research community, we offer Mr. Rotman's family our deepest condolences.

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