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Honouring Dr. John R. Evans

Fund named for former U of T president

President Emeritus John R. Evans (with astronaut Buzz Aldrin) was the founding chair of MaRS Discovery District (photo courtesy MaRS Discovery District)

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is paying tribute to the outstanding contributions of Dr. John R. Evans, the CFI’s first Board Chair and a former president of the University of Toronto, by renaming one of the CFI’s core funds in his honour.

“For many years, John Evans has played an exemplary role in supporting Canada’s scientific community, leading in higher education, and productively linking academe, government, and the private sector,” said Dr. Kevin P. D. Smith, the current CFI Board Chair. “It was without hesitation that the Board unanimously approved renaming the CFI’s Leaders Opportunity Fund the John R. Evans Leaders Fund.”

Evans served as the CFI’s Board Chair between 1997 and 2007, driving the CFI to innovate and catalyzing the creation of novel funding mechanisms for research infrastructure that have transformed Canada’s research landscape.

“All of us who have been involved with CFI were privileged on two levels," said Evans. "We worked with outstanding CFI staff and review panels. And we helped to support great minds and fine institutions of advanced research across Canada.

"I am deeply humbled and grateful to the CFI’s leadership for sustaining my association with this remarkable organisation.”

The new name will be used for what has been known as the Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF), which was launched in 2005 to help universities attract and retain top researchers. The fund allows universities to put together competitive packages of research support that are essential to attract today’s best research talent. To date, the CFI has distributed more than 3,067 LOF awards at 72 research institutions across the country.

“In keeping with his vision of providing the best for Canada’s universities, it seems fitting to honour John Evans’ contribution through this fund which has had such a striking impact on research across the country,” said Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the CFI.

“Throughout his extraordinary career, John Evans has been a constant catalyst for the betterment of his country and the world,” added Professor David Naylor, U of T president. “He cares deeply about the next generation of leaders, and I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute to this great Canadian.”

Evans received his MD from U of T and undertook specialty training in internal medicine and cardiology in London, England, Boston and Toronto. Among his many leadership roles, Evans was founding dean of McMaster University’s Faculty of Medicine, president of the University of Toronto (1972-78), founding director of the Population, Health and Nutrition Department of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. and founding chair of the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

Evans is a Companion of the Order of Canada, member of the Order of Ontario, a Fellow of the Order of Ontario, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada and London, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.