David Sackett, who is widely known as the father of evidence-based medicine, died on May 13, 2015 at the age of 80. Tributes began immediately:
"Dr. David Sackett was a wonderful man who propelled McMaster into the international spotlight, a reputation we still enjoy today," said Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University.
Holger Schünemann, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, added: "David Sackett was a true transformer of health care. He questioned established beliefs, and explored emerging areas. His legacy is carried forward through his influential role on clinical trials, systematic reviews, evidence-based medicine and health education worldwide."
"Dave was an inspirational leader, teacher and mentor, which assures that his legacy will endureand grow," said Brian Haynes, a professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics and a former student of Sackett.
Gord Guyatt, a Distinguished University Professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics, said: "Dave Sackett was an inspiration to all who knew him. His generosity, kindness, brilliance, innovation and deep commitment to science and to improving patient care provided a role model for more than one generation of clinical researchers and students."
Sackett was 32 and a physician with training in internal medicine, nephrology and epidemiology when he came to Hamilton as the founding chair of Canada’s first Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 1968. He was instrumental in developing evidence-based medicine, a medical approach based on scientific evidence and critical appraisal rather than conventional wisdom.
Sackett earned many prestigious awards, including:
Honorary Doctorate of Science, McMaster University
As a professor emeritus, he remained closely connected to McMaster’s Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, teaching seminars and courses and participating in the research symposia established in his honour.
One of Dave’s great delights was his interactions with students: undergraduate medical students, graduate students, interns, residents, clinical scholars, clinical fellows, and post-doctoral fellows. He loved the teaching/learning, probing /challenging, thrust and parry of Socratic interaction. Before he died, David and his wife, Barbara, decided to request memorial donations be made to the David L Sackett Graduate Scholarship at McMaster University, to honour and continue his passion for educating the medical and research leaders of tomorrow.
As he once joyfully observed, “they’re extending what I’ve been doing far beyond my wildest dreams.”