Wednesday, 25 April 2012

We are honouring Ken Morgan.  Leave a comment!


  1. Ken served as a mentor to me by example. He always provided me with an intellectual light in what could often be a very dark place. He epitomizes the scholar who is honest and truth seeking above all else. And although he can be tough with his rigor he has always been a great and warm friend.

    Scott Williams

  2. David Rosenblatt30 April 2012 at 04:20

    Members of the Department of Human Genetics at McGill are immensely proud of the major contributions you have made to our discipline over a long and distinguished career. We take great pride in having you as a member of our faculty.

    David Rosenblatt
    Chair, Human Genetics, McGill

  3. I have worked with Ken for nearly twenty years and he has never ceased to amaze me. His power of intellect and imagination combined with an excruciating attention to detail have been inspiring, irritating, exasperating, and stimulating. Usually all at the same time. But any interaction with Ken has always given me new insight into science that I could not have achieved without him. I would trade with pleasure and without hesitation a lifelong free subscription to any journal of science for one by chance hallway encounter with Ken. He will always be a highly cherished senior colleague, respected mentor and friend for all questions of life and science.

    Erwin Schurr

  4. Celia Greenwood4 May 2012 at 06:35

    As a brand new postdoc working with Ken, I asked him what transmission ratio distortion was. The answer covered the entire history of epigenetics ... quite an amazing introduction! Ken will never treat a question or request superficially. He puts time, effort and thought into everything and that led to a wonderful training experience. His encouragement and advocacy have continued long past my postdoc and to this day.
    Ken and Mary have been, and continue to be, wonderful mentors and friends.

    Celia Greenwood

  5. Thanks Ken for all you've done for the Canadian Human and Statistical Genetics community -- collaborating, brainstorming, mentoring, advocating and generally being a pillar! Your honesty, integrity and courage in seeking and speaking the truth have been inspirational. Your warm, welcoming and encouraging ways were and continue to be so important for me, colleagues and students.


  6. JC Loredo-Osti4 May 2012 at 15:20

    On the last thirteen years, I have had the fortune of enjoying of Ken's intellectual guidance, unconditional friendship and immense generosity. His passion for science is as inspiring as his unqualified commitment to mentoring students and junior colleagues. From scientific matters to every day little things, any conversation with Ken is always a rewarding experience.

    There are not word to express my gratitude to Ken and Mary. They have stolen my heart.

  7. I too would like to thank Ken for welcoming me. Ken was never afraid to advocate for the community and we are all better off for it.

  8. Andrea Richter7 May 2012 at 07:21

    I add my voice to those honouring Ken. Starting well over 20 years years ago, as a then relatively young investigator, I enjoyed Ken’s guidance through the jungle of human genetics, haplotypes and gene mapping, etc. I am forever grateful for our long discussions and for his endless patience and explanations. I still have in my old files ‘faxes’ (you remember those) of carefully corrected pages of manuscripts and proposals, in beautiful handwriting.

    Ken introduced me to concepts and to people that were of immense benefit to my scientific career but perhaps most importantly, to my growth as a person.

    Ken and Mary shared some of the best and some of the worst moments of my life. I thank them both their friendship.

  9. I'm not sure, exactly, when I first met Ken and Mary. I do recall Genetic Analysis Workshop 9 which was held in Quebec and hosted by them. This was shortly after the publication of the Spielman et al paper on transmission disequilibrium testing, and it was a hot topic in the presentations at the workshop. I was quite new to the field of statistical genetics, and was grateful to Ken for his answer to my question of "What is this TDT thing, anyway?". In any case, that was near the beginning of an association that has extended through the years of our long-standing collaborative MITACS project ( as part of the NCE in Mathematics, and various CIHR/Institute of Genetics sponsored activities. I believe I can speak for many of us who have benefitted from Ken's knowledge, insight, and experience in human and statistical genetics, as well as his encouragement and mentorship in our development as scientists.

  10. I am grateful to have met Ken who is not only intelligent and brilliant but also warm and approachable. I thank Ken for his warmth and encouragement. Thank you Ken, for being a great example to us young people in this community!

  11. Elizabeth Thompson7 May 2012 at 15:21

    Although we have only one joint paper, Ken Morgan has been one of the longest-term collaborators of my academic life. We first corresponded over 35 years ago on the patterns of variation in allele frequecy within and among related populations, and it is close to 30 years since I first visited Ken and Mary in Edmonton and became involved in their analyses of data on the Hutterite population of Alberta. We shared somememorable visits, and I appreciate their care and hospitality especially during the 3 months in I spent in Montreal during my 1994-5 sabbatical.

    Three important things about Ken:
    1) His concern for the academic development of students and junior faculty: witness, if it were needed, the many contributions to the blog.
    2) His intellectual honesty-- No short cuts and make sure it is correct. And, if it is not, then correct it openly: witness his assistance in writing the erratum to my two-locus kinship paper, while on vacation in Seattle!
    3) His broad interest in genome science: witness his equal readiness to discuss genetic interference inferred from plant gametophytes, (a question I had in Spring 1995 arising from the previous part of my sabbatical) as to discuss our human pedigree computations.

    Thank you Ken, and Mary also, for 30 years of collaboration and friendship.

  12. Coming mostly from a mathematical population genetics background, Ken welcomed me into the applied genetics world.
    He introduced me to many genetics researchers in McGill, and to the people on the MITACS team.
    Ken is a very knowledgeable scientist, able to discuss intelligently on numerous subjects in genetics and statistical genetics. Moreover, Ken always took the time to discuss science with me, and my journey at the Montreal General Hospital was a very enjoyable journey. I'm very grateful for all the time Ken has taken to explain genetics to me ! (and thanks Mary too..!)

  13. Carmen Sapienza13 May 2012 at 05:32

    I have waited some days before writing because I wanted to let my feelings coalesce. As I think back over the decades of my interactions with Ken, three words come to mind: time, patience, intellect. No other colleague was ever so willing to donate such an extraordinary amount of time to a problem as Ken. I recall cross-country telephone conversations that went on far beyond the time I was frustrated with our inability to solve a problem. No matter, Ken would raise one more comment, apply his intellect, and stand back and examine the result one more time. At the end of the conversation, you would realize that, even if what seemed to be an insurmountable problem had not been solved, Ken had moved the chains down the field. This result was inspiring but not until you realized what happened (usually the next day!).

    Similar scenarios play over, again and again, in my head. He always has time, patience and intellect and is willing to apply all of them in whatever measure is necessary, regardless of your circumstances. Thank you, Ken, for all you've done. You've been a wonderful colleague and I am proud to be counted among your friends. Much love to you, and Mary, too!

  14. I have been privileged to work with several outstanding mentors in my research career. Ken is one of the brightest personalities among them. A true scientist with refined intellect and broad scientific interests, Ken is also a humanitarian and a true friend who is always there for you. I will be always grateful for Ken’s and Mary’s generosity, interest in my research, mentorship and continuing intellectual and moral support in both moments of failure and moments of success.

    Anna Naumova

  15. Ken!
    I have been sitting opposite your work space for the past 17 years now so I do feel qualified to say that you have hardly changed in all those years. It's been a pleasure to have you as a colleague in the Human Genetics Dept at McGill. Ken's bookshelf was always a source of wonder - has he read everything to do with classical genetics? A radical,rigoorous scholar.
    With warm wishes
    Will Foulkes

  16. Johanna Rommens29 May 2012 at 12:38

    I am forever grateful for your help and patience with teaching genetic linkage analysis. Such fun stuff, and work long before the sequencing of the human genome and composite maps became common place. Genetic disease analyses is not just finding DNA sequence changes, you need to incorporate and integrate careful phenotyping, family information and all the stuff that chromosomes do.

    And to the Ken and Mary team, for our many discussions on disease haplotypes.

    I especially want to acknowledge your kind help to my student and myself during that Ice Storm of the Century. In retrospect, the time is now fondly remembered.


  17. Dear Ken,
    It was a real pleasure to meet you in Edmonton, then to work with you and Mary while I was in Quebec. I will never forget the long conversations we had about population genetics, among others.

    I wish you all the best.

    From Marc De Braekeleer

  18. Some of my most distinct and fond memories from graduate school are the many conversations I shared with Ken in the hallways of the Montreal General. Ken has the unique ability to transform naïve questions into intellectual conversations that stimulate independent learning. This talent has made him the invaluable mentor that he has been for so many at the Department of Human Genetics. Many thanks Ken!


  19. Dear Ken,

    Some of my fondness memories of my time spent at McGill were the times spent discussing philosophically about genetics in the lunch room of the 11th floor! These discussions motivated me to try to learn even more. You thought me a lot and for that I thank you. I wish there would be more teachers like you around!

    Good luck in your new projects! Hopefully I will see you around in our hood!

    Judith Caron

  20. How can I adequately describe Ken in only a few words?

    I moved to Montreal to work for Ken in my first job out of university, in the field of human genetics after a background in bioinformatics. What a learning curve! But Ken helped guide me through the minefield of pedigrees and linkage with wisdom and patience, and more than a few discussions. When, in the course of data analysis, side issues arose, as they so often do, Ken gave me the freedom to explore them, knowing that these side issues often led to a deeper understanding of the data.

    In short, working for Ken was an ideal initiation to academic life. His emphasis on knowledge for knowledge's sake made him a great mentor. His kindess, generosity and sense of humour made him a great human being.


  21. Gustavo Turecki8 June 2012 at 11:48


    I want to thank you for having been a tremendous source of inspiration throughout my career. You are a unique example of what a scholar should be, as you are always willing to teach, constantly open to learn, and a source of tremendous knowledge. A true role model! I would also like to thank you for having been available and supportive when I most needed.


  22. Dear Ken,

    For a quite while, I was under the impression that you were the only genetic epidemiologist in the country – since everybody I spoke to for career advice kept directing me your way. “Wow! What great luck,” I thought naively, “to be interested in a field that shows such great promise but has only one guy doing it all in our country!” Yes, in the late 90s, early 2000s, there were few genetic epidemiologists in Canada - and while you might not have been the only genetic epidemiologist in the country, you were absolutely “The” guy to go to for any question relating to genetic epidemiology. Period. Your breadth and depth of knowledge, genuine interest in capacity building, patience and unconditional generosity, were unique to you alone. Although we were not “related” through official mentorships or collaborations, I could ask you as many questions as I wanted, and whenever we spoke, I always felt that time did not matter. Quite a few of our very long chats would mark important career choices; you helped guide me towards the team with whom I would do my post-doc and vetted ideas about my first CIHR grant. Today, I am tremendously grateful for your guidance and support during these particularly critical moments in my career. I continue to benefit from these very early choices…so evidently, your advice was not only generous, it was judicious!

    Thank you Ken!


  23. Dear Ken,

    From my beginning at McGill as a post-doctoral fellow, I really appreciate your patience to teach me linkage analysis and the enthusiasm you showed building haplotypes, performing survival analysis (even in chickens) and discussing science. Without your help, several key publications would not have been come through as elegantly. You were a great mentor for myself and several of my students.

    I wish you all the best for the years to come.


  24. Kathleen Oros Klein28 June 2012 at 10:44

    I don’t even know where to begin. Ken and Mary you have been my mentors and my role models from the first day I stepped foot in McGill. You have held my hand through a very complicated maze, completion of my PhD and starting my career. You have given me endlessly of your time and expert advice. I will always be grateful for your loving guidance.
    Love always,

  25. Dear Ken,

    More than 20 years ago our first conversation became a detailed and exhaustive introduction to genetic linkage analysis. Being trained as a virologist I was blown away! Little I knew it was going to be a turning point in my scientific career and the beginning of an enduring friendship. So thank you -and Mary- for the many insightful discussions about genetics (books and life), sharing the gusto to tackle difficult problems (epistasis, yeah!) and always inspire my students and myself to be rigorous, become better and think further. Love,


  26. Dear Ken,

    I would like to take this opportunity recognize some of your
    contributions to genetics, and to thank you for everything
    you have done for me and for some close friends and colleagues.

    I first became aware of your influence in the early 1980's when Marc
    de Braekeleer moved to UofA to work with you. On several occasions
    when I ran into Marc thereafter, he couldn't say enough about your
    knowledge, guidance and friendship.

    My next encounter with your work was in the 1990's when Chon was
    studying at Dalhousie. Chon was reading some papers by Elizabeth
    Thompson, and he pointed out to me that there was this brilliant
    geneticist named Ken Morgan at McGill with whom Elizabeth collaborated, and whose work on Hutterite pedigrees was the basis for much of Elizabeth's statistical investigations. Given Elizabeth's work with Charlie Geyer and others on MCMC methods, I think it fair to say that your work on deep pedigrees was one of the main motivations for the resurgence of interest in MCMC methods.

    You may recall that in the mid '90's we had an informal meeting where we got together as many people as we could find at Dalhousie who were doing quantitative genetics of one form or another, with the goal of everyone finding out what everyone else was doing. We had scheduled two days, with the idea that everyone would give a presentation on their work, followed by open discussion, with no fixed time limit. Several of the people were working on resource conservation genetics, with others working on population or human genetics. By that time we had come to know each other a bit through the Mitacs project and I had an appreciation of the breadth of your expertise in genetics. I asked if you would attend as a discussant, and you kindly agreed. It was a treat to watch you in action - many insightful questions; an almost encyclopedic knowledge of genetics allowing you to immediately place work in the context of previous research; and a boundless, infectious, enthusiasm for genetics. Thanks to your participation, this has been my most memorable and productive conference/workshop

    After Chon graduated from Dal and took a PDF with you, on any occasion when I was passing through Montreal I took the opportunity to drop by to talk with Chon. Each time, if you were around, you took time, on short notice, from your busy schedule, to sit and talk genetics with me. You were incredibly generous of your time.

    Thank you Ken.

    Bruce Smith

  27. Ken, There are only a few intellects that I admire and you top the list because of your combination of caring, not just about the high quality of the education and mentoring you imparted those who sought it, but the caring and compassion you and Mary always paired it with. You set many of us on the right path to success and we are forever grateful. I was one of those fortunate ones and even after 19 years I continue to ask for your guidance. With warmest regards!

  28. Dear Ken,

    Thank you for your support during the years I spent at McGill, but above all thank you for inspiring me to do my best to try and understand and apply the fundamental principles of scientific research.

    Best Regards,

    Fabio Sánchez

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