Dr. G.E. Hobbs
Obituary for Dr. George Edgar Hobbs 1907-1987
An important figure in the development of epidemiology and preventive medicine in Canada died on January 28, 1987.
George Edgar Hobbs came to The University of Western Ontario in 1946 to establish the Department of Clinical Preventive Medicine and Psychiatry. The alliance of preventive medicine with a clinical specialty was in keeping with the teaching of J.A. Ryle of Oxford, England, who urged that socio-medical instruction be related to patients and their problems and to the natural course and consequence of disease. U.W.O. had sought a distinguished clinician with a strong interest in preventive medicine. Dr. Hobbs, already well known as a teacher and clinician in psychiatry, prepared himself for his new position by taking a M.P.H.
Within a few years of his arrival at U.W.O., he developed an extensive undergraduate curriculum in preventive medicine and started a graduate program in epidemiology. His work on accident proneness with the first graduate students in teh Department became a classic. He initiated studies of the utilization of medical care by arranging access to the records of Windsor Medical Services, one of the early non-profit health insurance plans in Ontario. Studies of the epidemiology of psychiatric disorders were also prominent in the early years of the Department.
Through the influence and encouragement of Dr. Hobbs a number of young people were led to careers in epidemiology and preventive medicine. Those of us who had this fortunate experience will never forget our mentor. He offered us many creative ideas and in turn was receptive to ours. He guided away from error by human rather than criticism. His rich knowledge of history and his understanding of human nature taught us to contemplate the reasons for research as well as the mechanisms.
The name of George Edgar Hobbs deserves a prominent place in the annals of Canadian epidemiology.
Written by Carol Buck, for the Canadian Journal of Public Health.