Genest, Jacques

Jacques Genest, physician, medical researcher (b at Montréal 29 May 1919), founder of the Institut de recherches cliniques in Montréal. Genest studied at College Jean-de-Brébeuf and did his medicine at the Université de Montréal before specializing in surgical anatomy and physiology at Harvard Medical School. He spent 6 years in the US, first at Harvard and then at the Rockefeller Institute, NY. On his return to Québec, the provincial government had him carry out a study of European research centres. In 1952 he began to practise medicine at Hôtel-Dieu and there established his first laboratory. Ten years later, with a research team which had felt cramped at the hospital, he carried out his dream of establishing his own institute, the Institut de recherches cliniques.

Thanks to his interdisciplinary approach, the institute became an almost unparalleled example of the direct application of molecular biology to the study of clinical medical problems. One of the institute's teams, led by Dr Marc Cantin, identified the heart hormone, or ANF (atrial natriuretic factor), secreted by granules found inside certain cells of the auricles of the heart. This hormone plays an essential role in the control of the volume and pressure of the blood. Among other honours he has received the Royal Bank Award (1980) and the Killam Memorial Prize (1986). In December 1987 he was named honorary professor of the Academy of Medical Sciences of China in Beijing.