Home > Tributes > University mourns the loss of former dean of medicine

University mourns the loss of former dean of medicine


Dr. Grant Gall, 1941-2009

Dr. Grant Gall, 1940-2009

One of the driving forces behind the success of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine passed away suddenly this past weekend. Dr. Grant Gall, former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1997-2007, died while vacationing with his wife of 49 years, Laurie. Dr. Gall had recently been awarded the Order of the University of Calgary for his distinguished service.

Under Dr. Gall’s leadership, the O’Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences program was launched, the Faculty’s six research institutes were created and the Health Research Innovation Centre (HRIC) was constructed. He also spearheaded an international health program where University of Calgary doctors and medical students travel to developing nations such as Laos, Chile and the Philippines to deliver better health care and enhanced medical training.

“Dr. Gall’s passion for transformation and change, his ambitious vision for the Faculty and his dogged determination to make that vision a reality inspired many of his students, colleagues and friends,” said Tom Feasby, Dean, Faculty of Medicine in a message to all faculty staff and students this morning.  “It is difficult to fully describe the imprint that Dr. Gall has left on us and on the Faculty as a whole, but in the coming days we will consider an appropriate way to recognize his significant contribution. ”

Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Dr. Gall attended school in Acme, Alberta where he graduated from Acme High School and moved on to the University of Alberta for med school. After graduating in 1965, and completing his internship and residency in Vancouver, Toronto and Boston, he then spent several years as a member of the Division of Gastroenterology for SickKids Hospital in Toronto. He also held appointments as an instructor in Paediatrics at Harvard and Boston universities. In 1979, Dr. Gall joined the University of Calgary and proceeded to make his mark here over the next 30 years.

Distinguished career in paediatrics

Prior to serving as dean, Dr. Gall was head of the Division of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, holder of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Paediatric Research, assistant dean (research), professor and head of the Department of Paediatrics, medical leader of the Child Health Program and head of the Regional Department of Paediatrics.

During his two terms as dean, the Faculty of Medicine nearly doubled both the number of its faculty members and the number of students admitted into the MD program. The O’Brien Bachelor of Health Sciences program is now recognized nationally as an innovative training program preparing undergraduate students through inter-disciplinary education in diverse areas.

From vision to reality

A “builder” in all senses of the word, Dr. Gall forged long-lasting relationships with the corporate community, actively involving them in developing a blueprint for excellence through the Dean’s Advisory Council. In addition to the HRIC building, Dr. Gall was also instrumental in convincing politicians and decision-makers of the need for a new children’s hospital on the University of Calgary’s West Campus. He advocated for the creation of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, which was successfully launched this past September.

Dr. Gall was a visionary leader who will be greatly missed by all who knew him. His impact in life was large, and therefore, his loss will be felt far and wide.

The University of Calgary community sends wishes of comfort and sympathy to his family.

Details on funeral arrangements are not yet available but the family has requested that donations be made to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, in lieu of flowers.

Categories: Tributes
  1. UCalgary Medicine
    April 20, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Dr. Gall touched so many lives…it is difficult to capture everything in one short article for our website. Please send us your stories and memories of Dr. Gall for this tribute page. Thank you so much.

    Jody MacPherson
    Director, Communications and Media Relations
    Faculty of Medicine

  2. Oscar Illanes
    April 20, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    From miles away people is mourning the sudden passing of Dr. Gall. Dr. Gall established a successful exchanged/ training program with the University of Concepcion and the Concepcion Health Region in southern Chile; in the process he developed a strong friendship with many Health Professionals in that southern country. I am a faculty member at UC Faculty of Veterinary Medicine who is originally from Chile. Today I received an E-mail from Dr. Luis Ramirez, Professor at the Medical School, University of Concepcion who, on behalf of the entire faculty and Dr. Gall’s Chilean friends, wanted to send his heart-felt condolences and let us know how sad they were when hearing the news…

  3. Juliet Guichon
    April 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I had special reason to be grateful to Dr. Gall. Last summer, at a Stampede lunch downtown, a teenage girl fell unconscious on to the table at which I was sitting with my family. Although she was quickly surrounded by concerned waiters, their expertise was not entirely helpful. I had seen Dr. Gall in the room and ran to where he was dining with his wife and family. He greeted me warmly even though I was interrupting. I apologised, told him that there was a medical emergency and asked him please to come. He stood immediately and followed. Even as we were arriving at the scene, Dr. Gall asked the man accompanying the girl, “Is she diabetic?” The man said yes. Dr. Gall turned to me: “I want orange juice with sugar and not a little bit of sugar. When this happens on airplanes, they give me too little sugar and it doesn’t work. Give me a lot of sugar.” So I asked the bartender who was already eager to help to put a lot of grenadine syrup in the juice and then scurried back to Dr. Gall giving him the glass and a straw. He had two sugar bags already opened, which he dexterously put in the glass as he simultaneously stirred with the straw and put the straw to the girls’ lips. Somehow he managed to encourage her to sip; before long, she came back. Within four minutes, the girl was upright and walking. She rejoined her family and Dr. Gall his. About three weeks ago, I saw Dr. Gall in the medical school and so could thank him for his kindness and relate what some of his paediatrician colleagues had said when I had recounted the story: “Imagine that. Grant nailed it with one question.” To this praise, Dr. Gall shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “It was nothing.” And then he asked me how things were going in the medical school.
    Juliet Guichon
    Office of Medical Bioethics, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine

  4. Derek
    June 2, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Sorry to hear of Dr. Gall’s passing. He was a good teacher and only occasionally too stern.

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