Three Giants of Pathology in the Province of the British Columbia

Written by: Dr. Arun Garg, PhD, MD
Drs. Don Rix, Dave Hardwick and Cam Coady
As I celebrate my 50 years of association with Lab Medicine in the province; some reflections set in. Three major organisations have been part of this journey: University of BC Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; BC Medical Association (now Doctors of BC); and Royal Columbian Hospital Lab (now Fraser Health Lab Medicine and Pathology). I have had the privilege of being mentored by three giants of pathology: Drs. Cam Coady, Don Rix and David Hardwick. Each of them played a significant role in my career, and I am the proud recipient of three medals named after each of them.

These three individuals played a major role in building the practice of laboratory medicine over the last 70 years and have contributed to the very unique system in the province. They taught me the ways in which laboratory medicine is an integral part of the practice of medicine. One constant message from the work of these three pioneers is that pathology cannot be practiced in isolation – it must be a mainstream part of medicine.

No doubt, with time the medium will change, but the foundations of medicine will not.

Pathology is an integral part of the curriculum in the study of medicine. I still remember the small group sessions and examinations of gross specimens and slides. Those foundations are paramount in the practice in medicine and that was a key contribution of the UBC Pathology department and Dr. Hardwick. No doubt, with time the medium will change, but the foundations of medicine will not. All three of my mentors championed this value of adaptability, while believing in the importance of establishing firm foundations. The practice of pathology and laboratory medicine has benefited immensely from this contribution.

Dr. Arun Garg (centre) - receiving Dr. Don Rix Award for Physician Leadership , with Dr. Mark Schonfeld (left), CEO of BCMA, and Laura Rix (right), daughter of the late Dr. Don Rix, at the BCMA Annual Meeting - 2011

All three of these pioneers also played a foundational role in fostering collaboration and collegiality within the medical community. When one looks around Canada, British Columbia is unique in this respect. Pathology is integral to the practice of medicine in this province and as a result, we see close relationships and participation among all practitioners. A distributed medical school is also part of the reason for this. Pathology, though not fully recognized by many, has been a key for this seed of collaboration.

Another virtue of these three great leaders was their desire to give back to their community. I saw, at an early stage in my career, how a pathologist could play a leading role in the business of the profession. All three of them were actively involved far beyond the required call of duty. Dr. Hardwick was and is very active in carving out and implementing the university’s vision and mission statement; Dr. Rix was active in the BC Medical Organization financial organization; and Dr. Coady was active in negotiations and bringing unity to the profession. I believe the profession is stronger because of their active participation.

Dr. Dave Hardwick Life Time Achievement Award 2018

All three of my mentors were action-oriented visionaries. They taught me that if you have an idea, you should act on it. A case in point is Dr. Hardwick’s involvement in the outreach program for UBC. Likewise, Dr. Coady and Dr. Rix both saw the need for community based laboratory medical services in the 1950’s, and they went on the build two of the most successful systems in the province.

Laboratory medicine is an early adopter of new technologies and there is constant change in our delivery systems. I learned from my three mentors the importance of progress and change. I recall many conversations about the future of the practice. All three of them recognized the importance of embracing change, while keeping our foundational values intact. The patient was always at the forefront of any delivery system talk - technology was only a tool. Technology is to be used to benefit the system and not other way around.

I also learned that life is not a bed of roses; there will be difficulties and differences. Even among these three there were differences of significant magnitude. The key is how one goes about addressing these difference. I was fortunate to work with them in specific situations and saw how positive relationships solved many difficult situations.

These three giants of the profession shaped the practice of medicine in this province, and the profession is better off thanks to them. The institutes they worked in benefited enormously because of their work, as did I as an individual. We are all forever indebted to their generous contributions.

Dr. Arun Garg: Half a Century of Outstanding Service at Royal Columbian Hospital and UBC

On July 1sth, Dr. Arun Kumar Garg received a wonderful, surprise celebration by the staff on his 50th anniversary at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, which he said he found “very gratifying.”

Dr. Garg is a global physician with interest and aspirations in integrated health and medicine. He is Consultant Medical Biochemist at Fraser Health, Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia, and a Clinical Service Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University.

He is founding Program Medical Director of South Asian Health Institute at Fraser Health. Garg conceptualized and founded the Canada India Network Society in 2010. To build economic, trade, educational and cultural links between Canada and India through healthy civil society. He is also Director of the Global Office in the Department of Pathology in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC.

Dr. Garg is founding member of Canadian Physicians with Interest in South Asia (PISA) of BC, and the Canadian Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (CAPIH). He is an executive member of Global Association of Physicians of Indian origin (GAPIO). He has served in many leadership positions including president of Doctors of British Columbia. He has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate of technology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Dr. Don Rix Gold Medal for Leadership of Doctors of British Columbia, Dr. Cam Coady Service Award and the Dr. Dave Hardwick Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr.Garg holds a Doctorate in Philosophy in Biochemistry from the University of Saskawatchen and Doctor of Medicine form the University of British Columbia. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and College of American Pathologists.