In Memoriam: Dr. Larry Svenson

We have lost a beloved colleague and friend, Dr. Larry Svenson, who passed away unexpectedly on Friday, March 25, 2022.

28 March 2022

svenson.jpgIt is my sad duty to inform you that we have lost a beloved colleague and friend, Dr. Larry Svenson, who passed away unexpectedly on Friday, March 25, 2022. 

Born October 26, 1964, in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Larry graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alberta. He received a PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, England, in 2015, and was also a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health. He was an Associate Professor, Special Continuing in the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta for almost six years, an Adjunct Professor with the School of Public Health, University of Alberta for over 25 years, and an Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine for almost 20 years.

In addition to his academic roles, he was the Provincial Health Analytics Officer and Executive Director for Analytics and Performance Reporting at the Alberta Ministry of Health and was said to be an integral part of our province’s response to COVID. Keenly watching the first cases unfold in Wuhan, he and his team knew COVID would become an international concern and started thinking about what would happen if the virus appeared in Canada. They began their work in late January 2020 prompting the province to impose the necessary public health measures to flatten the curve and prevent adverse impacts on the healthcare system. This work was instrumental in him being awarded the Premier’s Public Service Award for Individual Leadership in 2020. 

Larry was a member of the Public Health Agency of Canada expert surveillance advisory committees for cardiovascular disease, arthritis, chronic respiratory disease, neurological conditions, and diabetes. He also recently chaired the National Surveillance Infrastructure Task Group of the Public Health Network Council of Canada, which developed a public health surveillance blueprint for Canada

Larry was described by colleagues as having a great sense of humour, “he was always joking around, and managed to be both sarcastic and extremely supportive in the same sentence. When he poked fun, it was a sign of endearment”.
He took every opportunity to brag about his wife Jill’s cooking, especially her homemade pasta. In his spare time, he enjoyed travelling, and it’s not surprising, he loved puzzles, including Wordle. He also enjoyed reading, and always had good recommendations for health-related non-fiction books because of his passion for public health.

 “I remember one thing he liked to do is to give a non-fiction book he found interesting to new colleagues and mentees,” said Dr. Ellen Rafferty, one his colleagues in the Division of Preventive Medicine.
Larry was known to always champion those around him, giving the spotlight to those who worked for him or with him, making sure their successes were recognized. He was described as an 'ideas guy', always coming up with great ways to push Alberta forward as a leader in data science and a strong advocate for open data initiatives.

We will remember him fondly, he will be sadly missed in the Department of Medicine.
To learn more about Larry’s life and career, article in the American Journal of Epidemiology by Erin Kirwin, Shannon MacDonald and Kimberley Simmonds.

Dr. Narmin Kassam
Chair, Department of Medicine