Early Years
Lecture Series

Memorial Speeches

A Eulogy for Yogesh Patel, My Dad - Sunil Patel (Montreal, Canada)

My father excelled in the various roles he played in life: a talented physician, compassionate friend, and a dedicated researcher. However, behind all the awards and medals was also a devoted husband and a loving father who never forgot the importance of a strong family.

When my brother and I were younger, he would take us to the park after work while my mother prepared dinner. It was his time alone with us – the father with his two boys. Here was a man who would be teaching the complexities of somatostain during the day but would decide to leave work a little early in order to show his sons how to fly a kite. But that was the type of person he was- he never forgot what was really important in life.

And it was during moments like these that I got to know my Father for the true person he was. It was there where he described the wonders of the world and how one day he would take us there. It was while gently passing the soccer ball he would describe the importance of character and values. He taught me how to ride a bike, throw a baseball, shave without cutting myself, and most importantly, how to be a responsible young man.

As I grew from a carefree child to an older and unreasonable adolescent, our relationship was tested. But through hardship, we became even closer and our relationship evolved to a new stage – one of friendship, mutual respect and understanding. He was my best friend – the person I would turn to in my weakest moments. He would pick me up off the ground when I had fallen and would stand proud when I succeeded. He was the concrete lighthouse that stood tall & firm while guiding me through the turbulent waters of life, always enabling me to reach my destination safely.

While there are many lessons that I have learnt from my father, there is one in particular that I would like to share with you today:

He taught me that nothing in life is more important than self-respect and dignity. All the fame, prestige, and possessions in the world mean little if you had to compromise your values and principles in order to achieve them. Character is not only expressed in your thoughts, but, more importantly, in your actions. Always be true to yourself and be accountable for your actions, for only then can real happiness and success follow.

My father will be sorely missed but will live on in our memories…

A Eulogy for Yogesh Patel, My Dad - Camille Patel (Montreal, Canada)

When many people my age look for role models, they turn to those who have achieved great success in their lives. This success can serve as an example to show us the right path in life. In my case, I never had to look very far. My father was an ideal role model for me. He was a groundbreaking researcher, a talented physician and a great humanitarian, who earned the admiration and respect of his family, friends and colleagues. He has set for me a seemingly unattainable goal that I will nevertheless continue to strive for, for the rest of my life.

But through it all, he was a family man: a father to me and to my brother and a husband to my mother. Despite his devotion to his work, he always put our family first, never hesitating if ever we needed him. He made sure that my brother and I were brought up as strong people with good values, and for that I will always be grateful.

As many people already know, his passion for his work was contagious. Growing up, I was extremely interested in the things he was doing. I spent countless hours in his lab hoping that one day I could be just like him. Unfortunately, soon after, computers started to grab my attention. I think I broke his heart the day I told him that I wasn’t going to pursue medicine. But in the end, he accepted this as long as I was happy, and that’s all that really mattered to him anyway.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of my father and his achievements. And it is through this pride, admiration and love that I will strive for a life, which my father would be proud of.

Obituary for Dr Yogesh Patel - Lelio Orci (Geneva, Switzerland)

It is my sad privilege to contribute to the obituary of Dr. Yogesh Patel, who died prematurely and untimely. I have known Dr Patel for 26 years as a scientific collaborator, as a visiting professor in my Department, and a friend. This close association allows me to comment at first hand on Dr. Patel’s scientific creativity, the originality of his research and his international stature in his field of work.

I first met Yogesh in Melbourne, Australia when Dr. Henry Burger introduced me to him. Even at that time, there was already chemistry between us and I quickly seized this opportunity to invite Yogesh to come and work with me in Geneva. After his first visit in 1976, he took a sabbatical year to spend more time in the Morphology lab in the School of Medicine. We worked together as more close colleagues: we were like brothers, sharing the passion for science We worked long hours, sometimes finishing at 2 or 3 in the morning without much sense of time. It was such a pleasure to find someone who was so intelligent and shared the same passion for science as myself. Yogesh was a kind and gentle man, and a loving man, who caught the admiration of many people in my laboratory and beyond.

Dr. Patel was both a practicing physician as well as a bench scientist who trained in New Zealand, Australia, USA and Switzerland before coming to McGill University in Canada, 23 years ago, where his career has flourished. As head of Endocrinology at McGill, he was in charge of the largest Department of Endocrinology in Canada and one of the biggest in North America. Dr. Patel was unquestionably a pioneer in the somatostatin field in which he has made outstanding original contributions. He was recognized as one of the earliest and most active investigators of the basic functions of somatostatin, from the time of the discovery of this peptide as an important regulatory hormone 27 years ago. He has published a large body of work on somatostatin in highly prestigious journals and left his mark on virtually every area of somatostatin function, starting with his biosynthesis, posttranslational processing, regulation of secretion, islet and hypothalamic somatostatin function, somatostatin and diabetes, somatostatin metabolism, receptors and signal transduction and gene regulation. Along with Arimura, he developed the first radioimmunoassay for somatostatin and showed that this peptide was produced throughout the brain, but that it’s main source of production was the gut.

Dr Patel was the first to identify prosomatostatin and over the years he has been instrumental in providing a complete picture of the biosynthetic pathways through which the precursor is ultimately processed to its biologically active mature products, somatostatin-14 and somatostatin-28. Whilst working in my laboratory in 1976, Patel first reported that somatostatin was released from never endings in the neurohypophesis in response to depolarizing stimuli, and thus subserved a neurotransmitter function in the brain. His laboratory first described somatostatin receptors in brain, identified distinct molecular subtypes, and characterized several human somatostatin receptor genes by molecular cloning. In a major recent discovery, he has shown that members of the somatostatin receptor family associate on the membrane with other receptors, such as dopamine receptors, to form novel heterooligomeric receptors whose properties are distinct from those of the individual receptors. This finding defines a hitherto unsuspected new level of functional diversity in membrane signaling by G-protein coupled receptors with enormous implications in new drug designs. Dr Patel continued to break new ground until his death bringing together all of his earlier work on the biology of somatostatin and somatostatin receptors to help understand the molecular pathogenesis of somatostatin dysfunction in key diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Breast Cancer.

These accomplishments have clearly established Dr. Patel as a foremost international authority on somatostatin. Although all of these contributions and honours will surely preserve the memory of Yogesh Patel as a scientist, nothing will replace a man with outstanding personal qualities, great inquisitive mind, charm and humour.

I deeply sympathize with the sorrow of his wife Vimla, and sons Sunil and Camille.

Eulogy for Dr Yogesh Patel - Samuel Solomon (Montreal, Canada)

Dr. Yogesh Patel died at home on January 8, surrounded by family and a private funeral service was held on January 10th.

At the time of his death he was a Professor of Medicine at McGill University, Director of the Fraser Laboratories at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and Director of the Division of the MUHC. Dr. Patel was born in the Fiji Islands and obtained his medical degree from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand and a Ph.D. from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He did post-doctoral studies in Boston and in Geneva and in 1977 came to McGill University and the Royal Victoria Hospital where he spent the next 25 years.

Dr. Patel was one of a small number of physician-scientists in Canada who devoted themselves to high standards of clinical care and research. His research interest was confined to the study of the hormone, somatostatin. He delved into all aspects of the biochemistry and physiology of somatostatin and he became along with his colleagues world authorities on this subject. Dr. Patel received many honours for his research work but he cherished most being a member of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and recipient of its McLaughlin gold medal for excellence in biomedical research. In 2001, he received the Distinguished Scientist Award of the Canadian Society For Clinical Research.

A Eulogy for Yogesh Patel - Henry Berger

Yogesh Patel was my first PhD student, at the Medical Research Centre, Prince Henry’s Hospital, Melbourne, enrolled at Monash University. He had come to Prof. Bryan Hudson’s Department at Prince Henry’s in 1969, as a specialist resident in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, following his initial clinical training in New Zealand. Whilst still a resident, he had begun to work on refining the best of the currently available assays for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in order to make it more sensitive: This allowed the distinction between normal levels and the suppressed levels seen in hyperthyroidism. Between 1970-1972, he completed his thesis on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid Relations. In addition to improving the TSH assay (where he was in enthusiastic scientific competition with Prof. Reginald Hall of Newcastle, UK), he developed an assay for triiodothyronine and applied both assays to the study of thyroidal neuroendocrinology, including the exploration of the newly available thyrotropin-releasing hormone. The sensitivity he achieved with the TSH assay allowed him to define, for the first time, the pulsatile nature and circadian rhythm of TSH secretion, and its inverse relation to the rhythm of cortisol. He showed that this could be suppressed by administering cortisol. He took full advantage of a continuous blood sampling technique we had developed at the time to study pituitary hormone secretion, in collaboration with Drs Frank Alford and Gordon Baker. He demonstrated that TSH levels could be paradoxically normal or even elevated, in diseases of the hypothalamus or pituitary causing secondary hypothyroidism.

Yogesh was extraordinarily bright and had green fingers in the laboratory, coaxing the very best from assay reagents to produce outstanding radioimmunoassays. He had infectious enthusiasm, charm and gregariousness, and a winning grin, often accompanied by a characteristic licking of the lips, which he retained all his life. He had the highest integrity and dedication. He was popular with his peers and his juniors, was a most entertaining companion and a skilful curry cook. Numerous contemporaries with whom I have spoken recently were devastated to hear of his passing, but were most enthusiastic about their memories of him.

After completing his PhD, he was awarded Australia’s most prestigious overseas scholarship, a CJ Martin Fellowship of the National Health and Medical Research Council, to work with Seymour Reichlin in Boston, from where he returned to Melbourne in 1976, to spend two years working in what was to become his major scientific area of expertise and interest, somatostatin. These were great days at the Medical Research Centre, where his contemporaries included John Funder, Don Cameron, David de Kretser and myself. Sadly for us he was lured to Geneva and Canada where his illustrious career continued. All of his colleagues here join me in expressing our condolences to Vimla., Sunil and Camille. I am very sorry that I cannot be physically with you at this time, to celebrate a good friend, a wonderful man and a most distinguished clinician-scientist.