Remembering Dr. H. Allen Gardner
by Viola Freeman, ART, MLT, Ancaster, ON
On May 14, 2002, the genetics community lost one of its brightest stars. Dr. H. Allen Gardner passed away at the age of 65. For three decades, Dr. Gardner was a leader and a pioneer
in the field of cytogenetics. He had a special interest in the technologist group and actively promoted cytogenetic technology
Dr. Gardner obtained his medical degree at the University
of Toronto and his FRCPC in general pathology in medical genetics in 1961. He was
a professor at the University of Toronto
and Head of the Cytogenetics Laboratory at Toronto General Hospital
during the 1970s and 1980s. For the past 15 years, he served as Director of Genetic Services at the Lakeridge Health Corporation
(formerly the Oshawa General Hospital).
Dr. Gardner was also actively involved in cytogenetics research. His collaboration and participation in genetics studies generated
Dr. Gardner made enormous contributions to the development
of the initial cytogenetics certification examination in 1974. His continuous support, tireless effort and hours of devotion
to the examination panels, both at initial and advanced levels, were exemplary. In recognition of his contributions to the
certification process, CSMLS presented Dr. Gardner with an Honorary Affiliate Membership in 1995.
A passionate advocate of cytogenetic education, Dr.
Gardner helped to establish the cytogenetics technology training program at The Michener Institute in Toronto
in 1978. He was a valued member of the Advisory Committee and an invited instructor for 25 years.
Dr. Gardner was also actively involved in the Genetic
Cell Culture Committee of the Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program, serving as chair from 1972 to 1984. In addition to his
involvement with the LPTP, now known as the Quality Management Program - Laboratory Services, he also served on the Ontario
Medical Association Committee and chaired the section on genetics. In May 2002, the OMA award committee presented him with
a lifetime achievement award.
Joan Halbgewachs, charge technologist in the cytogenetics
laboratory at Lakeridge Health Corporation, has fond memories her former supervisor.
I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Gardner for over ten years. He was a memorable presence; well-dressed with an
erect posture, a warm open smile and a friendly hello to everyone he met along the corridor. One of Dr. Gardners greatest
gifts was his ability to bring people together. By doing so, he helped found a newly emerging field and continued to ensure
its place in laboratory medicine.
In the 1970s, Dr. Gardner helped found the Great Lakes
Chromosome Conference. This annual meeting held in Toronto provides a much necessary
venue for sharing cytogenetic expertise and is attended by technologists from both Canada
and the United States. For many years, Dr. Gardner and his
wife, Zita, hosted the opening reception at their home where a warm welcome was given to everyone.
In later years, Dr.Gardner held an annual retreat for
his co-workers and their families at his cottage in Fenelon Falls.
It was a wonderful way to leave our work behind and fully enjoy one anothers company, said Joan.
Dr. Gardners energy and commitment were an inspiration
to me personally, and to many of my colleagues. His conviction to raise and maintain the profile and standard of cytogenetics
technologists was both admirable and invigorating. He always made us feel comfortable. We will miss his smile, his sense of
humour, his jokes, and above all his mentoring. On behalf of all the technologists
whose lives he touched I say, thank you Allen.
Reproduced with permission:
Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory
The article appeared in the October 2002 issue,
Volume 64, Number 5, page 172