Dr Basil Ho Yuen passed away at his home on 21 February 2010 after a courageous battle with cancer. He served the University of British Columbia for over 36 years as teacher, clinician, researcher, and administrator.
Basil was born in Kimberley, South Africa, and graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1964. After completing his internship, he immigrated to Canada and completed his specialty training in obstetrics and gynecology at UBC. He then undertook further studies in endocrinology as a research fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
In 1973 he accepted an academic position with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UBC, where he remained throughout his career. After retiring from his academic position in 2006, he was made professor emeritus.
Because he was humble by nature, not many of his colleagues were aware of his many academic and research accomplishments: in 1986 he was nominated as one of Canada’s 50 most influential people and that same year he served as president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.
In 1974, Basil established the Gyn-Endocrine Laboratory, which he administered until mid-2009. The Gyn-Endocrine Laboratory was the first in British Columbia to provide assays of prolactin and beta hCG, which were critical in the identification, clinical management, and surveillance of patients with prolactin disorders and trophoblastic disease.
Over the years, the laboratory provided a unique clinical service; the estradiol assays made available on a daily basis were integral to improving the safety and clinical outcomes of patients undergoing ovulation induction within the university’s advanced reproductive technology programs.
The laboratory was nonprofit, and its proceeds contributed significantly to the support of the new Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) staff and research projects. Basil was the first director of the residency program for REI and later served as its head, during which time he advanced both the national and international profile of the division.
During this time he was seriously wooed by other academic centres, but fortunately for us he decided to stay at UBC.
Throughout his clinical and academic career, Basil actively engaged and promoted research in a wide range of REI problems.
His publications were numerous and touched on topics as diverse as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, prolactinomas, polycystic ovary syndrome, ovulation induction, and placental function, reflecting his deep curiosity and powers of clinical observation.
His most recent research paper was published in the August 2009 issue of Fertility and Sterility. After retiring as professor, he continued to be active within the division as professor emeritus, teaching, mentoring, and administering the laboratory and guiding it through its most recent accreditation in 2009.
Basil’s nonmedical passions included travel and photography. He and his wife, Peggy, explored many parts of the world, keenly appreciative of the attributes of each place and the people they visited.
After returning home from every trip, Basil would organize his pictures, often into a PowerPoint presentation with accompanying music and narrative. These travelogues were a rare treat, savored by colleagues, family, and friends. Even in his hobbies, Basil was the consummate teacher, his audiences often having felt they had been with him on the trip.
He was a devoted husband and son, brother and uncle. He leaves behind his beloved wife Peggy, his mother, two brothers, and three sisters. Basil will long be remembered not only for his significant contributions to academic and clinical medicine, but for his exceptionally modest, humorous demeanor.
He was a principled friend and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. To echo the words delivered in eulogy by his younger brother and physician, Dr Eric Ho Yuen, “Although he has departed he has left behind him deep footprints as a leader, scientist, and man of great stature.”
—Sheila Pride, MD
—Peter McComb, MBBS