Feasby: United grads stand, divided they fall

By Adela Talbot
November 01, 2013

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FeasbyPaul Mayne, Western News

In an increasingly interdependent world, graduates must remember to work with one another in solving the challenges of today, said respected neurologist Thomas Feasby.

Feasby spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Ivey Business School and Faculty of Health Sciences at the Friday, Nov. 1, morning session of Western’s 302nd Convocation.

Western conferred a Doctor of Science, honoris causa, upon Feasby in recognition of his distinguished career in medicine.

 “You have unlimited potential to do great things. (You’re) at a turning point in your life where your career really begins,” Feasby said.

Though predictions for the future are daunting and pessimistic – with famine, illness and conflict on the horizon – graduates have what it takes to work together to solve these challenges, he continued.

Feasby received his medical degree from the University of Manitoba in 1969 and did his neurology residency in London under the renowned Henry Barnett.

After spending two years at the Sobell Department of Physiology in London, England, Feasby came to Western to teach in the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences. Eventually, he became the chief of the Department of Neurological Sciences at Victoria Hospital, after which he moved to the University of Calgary, where he would become dean of medicine, founding the Calgary Neuromuscular and ALS clinics.

Feasby is responsible for building one of Canada’s leading neuroscience departments, which now includes internationally prominent research programs in stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain tumours and peripheral nerve research. 

He was vice-chairman of Academic Affairs at Capital Health (the Alberta Health Services), and associate dean of Clinical Affairs at the University of Alberta. Feasby also founded iCARE, a health services institute. Feasby served several years on the boards of directors of both the Canadian and American Neurological Associations, and currently serves on the board of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the strategic advisory board of the Institute for Public Health.

He has authored or co-authored more than 160 refereed publications. Feasby was among the first to describe a form of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a devastating neuro-muscular disease in a number of co-authored papers.

Feasby told the graduates there is much reason for optimism.

“We now live in a truly interdependent world. We can’t isolate ourselves; divorce is not an option,” he said.

“We are mostly programmed to be mutually supportive – united we stand, divided we fall,” he added, encouraging graduates to work together to build a future of opportunity, prosperity and community, always tackling challenges with optimism.

In his citation, Chemistry professor emeritus Michael Bancroft said Feasby’s contribution to the medical field is immense.

“He has made outstanding contributions to medical research and the development of outstanding medical programs at Western, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. Of equal importance are his seminal contributions to shaping and optimizing health-care delivery and health-care policy in Canada – a subject of great current interest. His career is a testament to scientific excellence, integrity, inspired leadership, enthusiastic personal commitment and compassionate care,” he said.

“Dr. Feasby has always shown a tremendous enthusiasm, intensity, and passion for wide range of other activities - sports of many kinds (running, football, tennis, basketball) and even bird watching at Point Pelee,” he added.


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