Born in Windsor, Ontario, Jim grew up in Toronto and was a graduate of the University of Toronto Medical School in 1961.
Born in Windsor, Ontario, Jim grew up in Toronto and was a graduate of the University of Toronto Medical School in 1961. Following graduation, Jim pursued a career in medical oncology and cancer research, which included a fellowship at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, England, from 1969 to 1970. It was during this time that he met his future wife, Enid. Married in 1970, they returned to Toronto where Jim started his first job as a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
In 1976 Jim accepted a position at the Cancer Control Agency of BC (the precursor to the BC Cancer Agency). It was here that he would develop his career and make his most profound contributions to the field of medical oncology and cancer care in British Columbia.
Jim headed up the Division of Advanced Therapeutics from 1977 to 1984 and oversaw the opening of the BC Cancer Research Centre in the old McGavin’s Bakery building in 1979. Here he was partnered with Dr Hulbert Silver, who remembers, “Jim’s talents went beyond laboratory investigation. He was very widely read in the natural sciences and especially history, had a quick wit, and was a great raconteur. To these we could add passion, judgment, perspective, and a remarkable personal loyalty to his colleagues.”
In the 1980s Jim and Dr Andrew Coldman developed the Goldie-Coldman Hypothesis to explain treatment resistance in cancers and to develop schedules to optimize the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents. This hypothesis and the models surrounding it spurred debate, encouraged a refocusing on how best to craft therapy, and had wide influence in the oncology community of the day—eventually leading to Jim’s service in the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, the premier advisory group assembled at the National Cancer Institute. In recognition of his achievements, Jim was also an early recipient of the Terry Fox Medal for outstanding contribution to cancer research.
Jim went on to become the head of medical oncology from 1984 to 1994 and saw the BC Cancer Agency through a major expansion during the 1980s as it moved into a new building in Vancouver. He expanded outreach across the province, opened a new cancer centre in Victoria, developed the resident training program into one of the premier medical oncology residencies in Canada, and participated in the maturation of medical oncology into its central role in cancer therapy internationally.
Jim was very well read on many topics but had an especially keen interest in military history, and especially the Second World War. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of it and could recount endless interesting stories about the conflict in all its aspects. He shared his passion with family and friends, and integrated this love of history with his many travels around the world.
His other great passion was cinema, and he was an avid collector of many great films. He would often screen films at his home for family and friends, complete with background story, trivia, and interpretation. His two interests often coincided; he especially loved historical dramas and war films.
Jim will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends, and family. He is survived by his wife, Enid; son, Ian; daughter-in-law, Casy; and granddaughter, Vannessa.
—Jason Sartor, MD
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