Volume 92, Issue 9

Thursday, September 17, 1998

service with a smile


A great loss to science

By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff

Western's medical community is mourning the loss of one of the country's most renowned and loved neurosurgeons.

Charles Drake, the first chair of Western's department of clinical neurological sciences and founding member of the Robarts Research Institute, died of cancer Tuesday morning at the age of 78.

Henry Barnett, professor emeritus of neurology and scientist at the Robarts Institute, was both a close friend and colleague of Drake. "We've been friends for 55 years," he said. "He was respected by everyone."

Both Barnett and Drake founded the department of clinical neurological sciences by combining their professions in neurology and neurological sciences. "We developed a rather attractive department which allowed others to come here," Barnett said.

According to Barnett, Drake was most famous for his technique of operating on aneurysms – little bubbles which sometimes locate themselves at the base of the brain. These particular types of aneurysms are difficult to perform surgery upon.

"He showed that you could clip the bubbles – this was an innovation," said John Girvin, vice-president of medical staff at the London Health Sciences Centre. Drake's procedure for clipping aneurysms has since been adopted worldwide.

"Dr. Drake brought London to national attention," said Vladimir Hachinski, chair of the department of clinical neurological sciences. "He can only be described as one of the world's greatest – I think he's one of the most loved people that I know."

Aside from his establishments at Western, Drake held positions such as the chair of the department of surgery, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, president of the International Congress of Neurosurgeons as well as receiving the Order of Canada.

Last month Drake received the nation's highest honour, the Companion to the Order of Canada, Hachinski said.

Mark Poznansky, president and scientific director of the Robarts Research Institute will remember Drake as a great teacher, mentor and supporter for students. "In North America, he was one of the most imminent professors."

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Copyright The Gazette 1998