Rhodes, Andrew James

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Rhodes, Andrew James

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1911–1995

History

Andrew James Rhodes (1911-1995) was born and educated in Scotland graduating from the University of Edinburgh with an M.B. in 1934 and an M.D. in 1941. Following graduation he was appointed Lecturer in Bacteriology at the University of Edinburgh (1935-1941) and then, during the war, was pathologist at Emergency Medical Services, Shrewsbury, England. After the war, he taught for two years at the University of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. While there he was persuaded by Dr. Robert Defries, Director of Connaught Medical Research Laboratories (CMRL) to accept an appointment in teaching and research in Toronto. The School of Hygiene at the University of Toronto was considered the academic wing of CMRL, and Dr. Rhodes, as Associate (1947) and then Associate Professor part-time (1948) taught courses to medical students in the Diploma programme in Public Health Administration as well as non-medical students. In 1951 he was appointed Professor of Virus Infections.

In 1953 he left the CMRL to join the Hospital for Sick Children as Director of the Research Institute. Three years later, he was persuaded to accept the position of Director, University of Toronto School of Hygiene, a position he held until 1970. During his tenure, Dr. Rhodes attempted to modernize the department with updated curricula in areas such as Public Health and establishing the Department of Microbiology. In his biography of Dr. Rhodes in Within Reach of Everyone, Volume 2, Dr. Paul Bator writes “…Rhodes’ plans for the School showed much foresight by identifying and anticipating the need for greater specialization in the medical sciences like microbiology…Rhodes’ plans were clearly to strengthen the academic and scientific resources of the School of Hygiene. However, in the end, the drive for bigger and better medical sciences came to overshadow the School’s and Rhodes’ commitment to the Public Health interdisciplinary model.” [1]

In 1970 Dr. Rhodes resigned from the University of Toronto to join the Laboratory Services Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health. He continued as part-time Professor, Department of Microbiology, School of Hygiene. As Medical Director, Dr. Rhodes was active on various committees including an International Committee on Rabies. He also had a unique opportunity to visit all the medical officers of health in the province as the laboratory Services Branch conducted all laboratory work for the Health Units.

Following his retirement at the age of 65 in 1976 he continued as a Consultant for the Ministry of Health. But in 1977 he returned to the University of Toronto briefly to survey the virus diagnostic services at University teaching hospitals and to chair the U. of T. Biosafety Committee. This latter committee dealt with research in biohazardous agents, teaching, policies on biosafety containment and monitoring compliance within the University community. In 1979, the Ministry of Natural Resources persuaded him to take on the chairmanship of the Rabies Advisory Committee, a part-time position he held until 1988. Throughout this period he continued to teach and lecture on virology, bacteriology and parasitology at the University of Toronto and other organizations.

During the 1980’s Dr. Rhodes worked with Dr. Paul Bator on the first volume of the history of the School of Hygiene and Connaught Laboratories entitled Within Reach of Everyone. As well as co-authoring the book, Dr. Rhodes was largely responsible for lobbying for funding for research and writing of the book which was published in 1990. His involvement in the second volume of this history was minimal and was published after his death in 1995.

Throughout his life, Dr. Rhodes and his wife Harriet were actively involved in their community church, Church of St. Leonard (Anglican) in Toronto. During the 1980’s Dr. Rhodes served as Vestry Clerk with his wife Harriet serving on church committees. Dr. Rhodes died in Toronto on February 11, 1995.

[1] Bator, Paul A. Within reach of everyone Volume II. A history of the University of Toronto School of Hygiene and Connaught Laboratories Limited. Ottawa: Canadian Public Health Association, 1995. p 37

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