Defries, Robert

Robert D. Defries

University of Toronto

For distinguished leadership in the development of preventive medicine and public health throughout Canada.

Seldom is there combined in one man great scientific knowledge and judgment, together with the personality and organizing ability to carry through new technical advances to their effective application in the control of disease. From his position as head, and to a considerable extent the creator of the Connaught Medical Research Laboratories and the School of Hygiene of the University of Toronto, Robert Defries has played a unique part in the development of preventive medicine and public health in Canada. Because of his outstanding qualities, his work has been widely recognized in the United States and in many other countries; his consistent support of understanding and cooperation between American and Canadian scientists and health officers has contributed importantly to the happy relationships which now exist.

The public health professions in the United States are deeply in debt to the Connaught Laboratories for developing a method of large-scale production and supplying nearly all the virus used in the successful field trials of the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine in both countries in 1954. The fruitful use in 1955 of this virus in Canada is also founded on the work at the Connaught Laboratories under Dr. Defries.

His single-handed stimulation and guidance of the Canadian Public Health Association and its Journal, and his tireless and unassuming labors for the advancement of knowledge, for the control of diseases and for the training and inspiration of health workers are all deserving of our wholehearted admiration and gratitude.