Remembering Jim Lund

Jim Lund: 1942-2009 / Photo courtesy Jocelyne Feine

By M. Catherine Bushnell

James P. Lund, Dean of Dentistry at McGill from 1995 to 2008 died peacefully in his sleep on December 8, 2009. Jim gave tirelessly of his time and energy to develop within McGill Faculty of Dentistry a world-class training program and an unparalleled community outreach initiative. A champion of interdisciplinary research, Jim played a leading role in establishing the Centre for Bone and Periodontal Research, the Centre for Biorecognition and Biosensors and the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain.

Jim was the motor behind the recruitment of many world-class faculty members at McGill. Through his enthusiasm and energy, he excited other deans into providing new recruits with the richness of cross-appointments between Dentistry and other faculties, such as Medicine, Science and Engineering. Through this process, Jim was able to bring to McGill outstanding junior and senior faculty from around the world. Whenever potential recruits were worried about the difficulties of moving to a new country or the cold of Canada or the language issues in Montreal, Jim had a way of giving them faith and allaying all worries. And when they arrived, they were never disappointed, as Jim always managed to provide what they needed and to foster each new faculty member’s growth.

I was no exception to Jim’s recruitment charm – somehow he managed to get me, a woman from the deep South, to give up a permanent job at the U.S. National Institutes of Health to move to the Université de Montréal, and when I was happily installed in my brand new state-of-the-art laboratories, to move again to McGill.

Jim’s energy was so powerful that I always found myself both elated and exhausted working with him. When I came to McGill in 1996, Jim had in mind that we would build McGill into the world leader in pain research. Ron Melzack was known internationally for his Gate Control theory, but as he neared retirement, only a few members of the McGill community were working in the area. Jim was determined to change that. He partnered with Franco Carli, then Director of the Anesthesia Department, and together they started hiring the top senior pain researchers from around the world, including Gary Bennett, Terence Coderre and Fernando Cervero.

Jim worked with the Psychology Department to help recruit Jeff Mogil as the E.P. Taylor Chair after Ron Melzack became Professor Emeritus. Next he started working with Edwards and Carli to recruit a new Director for the MUHC-MGH Pain Clinic, which treats patients with chronic non-malignant pain and addresses clinical research problems. Again, Jim’s infectious enthusiasm tipped the scales for a reluctant Israeli, Dr. Yoram Shir, to make the move to Montreal. Today, this treatment and clinical research centre is thriving.

Not long into the recruitment of all these pain researchers, Jim came to me again and said “We need to have a formal centre.” And then we were off on a new project. The centre was formed in 2002, and now it has more than 50 members and hundreds of trainees. The centre sponsors international lectures, journal clubs, public lectures and myriad other activities. Jim partnered with AstraZeneca R&D Montreal in a multi-million dollar project that provided research space and funds to the McGill pain community and allowed us to recruit outstanding junior faculty members and international post-doctoral fellows.

I only know such details from the perspective of our pain research community, but Jim created similar energy in other research centres, as well as throughout the Faculty of Dentistry. He was tireless and giving. He cared deeply about all the people he brought to McGill and about all members of his faculty. We were all his family, and we will all miss him more than we even know now.

M. Catherine Bushnell is the Harold Griffith Professor of Anesthesia Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Dentistry.

A memorial service in celebration of James P. Lund will be held on Jan. 26, at 2 p.m. in Redpath Hall (861 Sherbrooke Street West). There will be a reception following the service. RSVP to Marnie Taylor at or by phone at 514-398-7222.