Gordon Snider

Class of: 
Year of Birth: 

Gord was born in 1922 and after graduating from Bloor Collegiate, joined our class and graduated with the Cody Gold Medal - top of the class throughout! Like most of us he was in the RCAMC. After graduation he took this internship at Toronto General Hospital, and completed postgraduate training in American teaching hospitals: one year at the Bronx Hospital, one at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital, a year as Fellow at the Lahey Clinic, and then a year in pulmonary medicine at the Trudeau Sanatorium.

During the years 1949-1961 he was Assistant Director of the Chest Department at the huge and famous Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, running its pulmonary function laboratory and passing his Medical Boards while there. He was appointed an Associate Professor and acting Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the prestigious University of Chicago.

His final move was to Boston where he became a full Professor at Boston University and chief of the newly erected pulmonary section at the Boston Veterans Hospital. More than that he founded the pulmonary section of the Boston University School and was its chief. He served as President of the American Thoracic Society. He was on the Pulmonary Disease Advisory Board of National Institutes of Health.

For more than 4 decades he conducted what his peers in the field described as groundbreaking research on emphysema. His work is credited with “changing the direction of lung disease research for decades.” This was the result of his own discovery that neutrophile elastase has the capacity to create emphysema in animal models. For years he studied anti-elastase in the lung.

His publications included landmark papers accepted as such by all in the field and it is superfluous to detail them here. At a reception in his honour, a Professor of Medicine from Harvard, the person in charge of the Pulmonary Division of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, described him as “a great researcher, a superb caregiver and teacher.”  For the class of 4T4 he was unequivocally a “star” - his pulmonary research elevated him to worldwide preeminence in this field.

For much of the past decade, with the staunch support of his wife Sally, Gordon has suffered through two major illnesses, the first in 2003 was a right hemiplegia which was complicated by a difficulty in swallowing and a contracture in his right leg. The second was a B-cell lymphoma, which began in 2005 and led to complications that required a year in hospital and intermittent chemotherapy. At present in 2012, though he needs a motorized scooter for transport, Gordon is free of active disease, is strong of mind and ever cheerful in spirit.

Career Achievements

Member, Pulmonary Advisory Board, NIH

President, American Thoracic Society


Excerpt written by: Dr. Henry Barnett


Barnett, Henry, Joan Borland, Jack Laidlaw, Neil Watters and Bruce Wells. The Epic Journey of University of Toronto Medical Class of 1944. Toronto: University of Toronto, Faculty of Medince, 2012. pg. 73.

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