A friend, colleague, caring physician, patient advocate and giant in the field of respiratory medicine passed away in Vancouver on January 18, 2022.
Dr. J. Mark FitzGerald was the co-director of the Centre for Lung Health at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI). He was previously head and professor of the department of medicine’s division of respiratory medicine in the UBC Faculty of Medicine. He was also previously head in the division of respiratory medicine at Vancouver General Hospital.
On behalf of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine community, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. J. Mark FitzGerald.
Mark’s extraordinary contributions and impact on human health has made an indelible mark on the people he influenced as a clinician, researcher, colleague, mentor and friend. He has been at the forefront of shaping health outcomes for the Canadian and global respiratory community in ways that will live on for many years to come. Mark’s creative, innovative approach and witty sense of humour were always at the forefront, enabling new research, collaborations and clinical advances. His fun-loving, passionate demeanor and quick Irish wit endeared him to everyone he met, and especially to the many young people that he mentored in their careers in respiratory medicine.
Mark graduated from medical school at the University College Dublin in 1978. After training in Internal Medicine in Ireland, he worked as a general internist in Lesotho, Southern Africa for two years. He subsequently completed post-graduate training in Respiratory Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology at McMaster University, which led to a faculty appointment at the university in 1987.
In 1989, he moved to the University of British Columbia to further advance clinical and research activities in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis and health outcomes at the Faculty of Medicine and VCHRI. During this time, Mark held numerous leadership positions while leading ground-breaking research in asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease, leading dozens of clinical trials that have transformed asthma management. His most recent research focused on health literacy and ethnicity in the management of asthma and COPD as well as the economic evaluation of asthma and its cost-effective treatment. His impact in respiratory medicine was enormous, publishing in excess of 600 peer-reviewed papers and editorials in high impact journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal, The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In 2019 Mark was the recipient of the 2019 Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) Honorary Lecture Award for his major contributions to the advancement of research, education, or clinical excellence in the field of asthma and Canadian respiratory medicine. Mark presented his lecture “The Evolution of Asthma Care: A 30 Year Perspective” at the CHEST Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
Mark served as Chair and member of the CTS Asthma Assembly, involved in the development of asthma guidelines. He was the lead author of the 2017 CTS position paper on the recognition and management of severe asthma. Dr. FitzGerald was also past Chair and member of both the hugely influential Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Science Committee and the GINA Executive in which roles he had substantial impact on the way that asthma is managed at an international level.
Mark will be greatly missed by countless friends, colleagues, trainees and research staff across the UBC, VCHRI and communities abroad. We extend our deepest condolences to his spouse Céline Bergeron, family and to all who knew him. We wish them peace and comfort in the knowledge of his significant and enduring legacy. He will be greatly missed.