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Medical Biophysics in London


In Memoriam

Dr. Alan C. Groom, Professor Emeritus                  

Barbara Anderson, Administrative Assistant


Dr. Alan C. Groom

Remembering Dr. Alan C. Groom
Professor Emeritus

We are saddened to announce that Professor Emeritus and Former Chair of the Department of Medical Biophysics, Dr. Alan C. Groom PhD passed away January 9, 2013, only weeks after his beloved wife died. Alan had been a steadfast and devoted caregiver and companion for Elizabeth during her years of declining health.  Although frail, Alan was in a friendly mood at the reception following the memorial church service for Elizabeth and chatted with the dozens of friends and colleagues. 

Alan had a very distinguished research career in cardiovascular biophysics, and served as Biophysics Department Chair at Western, 1978 – 1987. 

He received his university education in Britain – BSc in Physics and Mathematics (London University, UK) and PhD, Biophysics (London University, UK) and was a faculty member in the Department of Physics, St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, University of London, when recruited to join Biophysics at Western in 1966.  Faculty and students in our department soon learned of his enjoyment of humorous poetry.  On occasion at coffee time he would face off with the chair of the department, Alan C. Burton, reciting British lyrics picked up in air-raid shelters in London during the war. 

Alan and his students have been at the forefront in quantitative research on the microcirculation, with extensive studies on the spleen and skeletal muscle – leading to intravital video microscopy in small living animals for the study of cancer metastasis.  Throughout his career at Western Alan maintained continuous grant funding for research from both the MRC and from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.   He was a wonderful mentor and colleague, giving willingly whenever asked for help, and he had such a gentle way to give advice or criticism. 

During his tenure as chair, Alan worked with the two leading imaging scientists at Western, Frank Prato and Aaron Fenster, to establish medical imaging as a new field for the expanding graduate program.  Alan had an excellent record as a classroom teacher, not only for science undergraduates, but also for medical and dental students.  Whenever possible he would demonstrate concepts through his own acting and sense of humour; for example, when underscoring the concept of ‘random walk’ for diffusion of molecules, he would demonstrate at the front of the class the directionless lurching gait of an inebriated patron looking for home after a pub’s closing time. 

He was one of the first recipients of the Dean’s Award of Excellence for contributions to teaching and research.  Alan’s noted awards in research are –  Medical Research Council Scholar (Canada), the Eugene M. Landis Research Award from the Microcirculatory Society of North America, and the Hermann Rahn Memorial Lecturer, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, SUNY at Buffalo.  He also served as President of the Biophysical Society of Canada, 1988 – 1990, and President of the American Microcirculatory Society, 1983 – 1984. 

Around the time of his retirement Alan directed his research energy to the study of tumour metastasis and related research, joining Ann Chambers and colleagues from the Departments of Oncology and Medical Biophysics, and their students.  Through this post-retirement partnership Alan coauthored 34 scientific papers. 

It is indeed uplifting to review Alan’s wonderful university career but the realization that he is no longer here for a chat over a cup of tea leaves deep sadness in its wake.   


- Peter Canham
  Professor Emeritus and Former Chair

- Jerry Battista
  Chair

Barbara Anderson

Remembering Barbara Anderson 
Administrative Assistant

In October 2007, my colleague, Barbara Anderson, had appeared abnormally preoccupied with the large number of files on her desk and had worked late into the evenings for the past several weeks. There seemed to be more than the usual urgency to complete the work. I knew something was on her mind but was hesitant to ask. At the end of the last day that we worked together, we said our good-byes and “see you tomorrow”. I never saw her again.

I learned several months later that she had been diagnosed with cancer earlier that fall. She was a private person who did not readily confide in the people with whom she worked. It didn’t surprise me she had quietly left that last evening under the guise of “see you tomorrow”. At the start of Christmas holidays and on a routine basis throughout her illness, our chair made a point of sending Barb an appropriate seasonal flower arrangement with a thoughtful message on behalf of the department. She always responded with a personal note and a picture of the arrangement. She officially retired in 2009 and we all hoped that the worst was behind her.   

Sadly, Barb died July 27th, 2011 unable to truly enjoy what we all want to look forward to in retirement - time with family, friends, and for travel. Whenever I think of Barb now – I think of her as a ‘class act’. She was a consummate professional. Over her 31 years in Medical Biophysics, she worked for 4 department chairs who readily admitted that they would not have been able to function as well as they did without her. She was from ‘the old school of administrative support’ – always anticipated everyone’s needs, always produced accurate flawless documents, always calm and self effacing, and always there without complaint during crunch times such as grant proposal or department study deadlines. Our organization and Western were very fortunate to have her skills, experience, and professionalism for as long as we did.      

Barb’s life was far too short. Like the rest of us, she spent more than her fair share of it on the job. It must be achingly difficult for her husband, children, and grand children to cope with the huge void where she once was in their lives. Although she was a woman of few words about her personal thoughts, I learned a lot from Barb during the nine years that we worked together.  Yes, work defines you up to a certain point but then you always commit and expend your real passions on your own priorities. In her life, it was family – being with her husband, her siblings, her daughters and their spouses, and especially her grandchildren. Change is always a constant in our work and personal lives but I won’t ever forget Barb.


- Wendy Hough
  Colleague

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

Department of Medical Biophysics - Learning through Research