John Dossetor

John Dossetor's contributions to the field of nephrology and bioethics are immense and have led in large part to today's successes. His work in nephrology has impacted the lives of thousands of patients and donors. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Dossetor collaborated with thousands of health care professionals, researchers, and clinicians in an effort to improve the lives of individuals living with kidney disease and their families. Based on his distinguished career, Dr. Dossetor was instrumental in initiating the areas of medical and medical research ethics in Canada.


  • Studied medicine at Oxford and at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, England, graduating with medical degrees in 1950. Went on to become a world renowned physician.
  • During the next 5 years did postgraduate clinical residency training in London interrupted by service with Royal Army Medical Corps.
  • 1955 - emigrated to McGill University, (Royal Victoria Hospital), Montreal, Quebec.
  • 1958 - At the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal was coordinating physician for the first, successful kidney transplant in Canada and the Commonwealth between identical twins. This historical and medically significant surgery led Dr. Dossetor to dedicate his career to kidney research, including improvements in treatment and transplantation.
  • 1961 - obtained PhD in Experimental Medicine at McGill University. Thesis was in circadian rhythms of electrolyte excretion and renal function.
  • 1961 - appointed Director, Renal and Urologic Research, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal; in charge of the renal service, with responsibility for dialysis and the medical aspects of renal transplantation.
  • 1961-69 - immunological aspects of renal transplantation became the principle research field and Dr. Dossetor was appointed a Career Investigator of the Medical Research Council of Canada - appointment continued to 1989.
  • 1964 - was co-founder of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, and then founding member of the Canadian Society of Nephrology, and the Canadian Society of Transplantation, and later, the Canadian Society of Bioethics.
  • 1969 - appointed Professor of Medicine, University of Alberta, and Director of the Division of Nephrology and Immunology, and Co-Director of a Research Group in Transplantation established by MRC, Canada, at the University of Alberta.
  • 1985 - interest in medical ethics led to a career change into bioethics.
  • 1986-96 - appointed as Director and, later, first Professor of Bioethics, at the University of Alberta. Created and chaired the University of Alberta Hospital's Clinical Ethics Committee.
  • 1992 - awarded the 125th Canadian Confederation commemorative medal for work with the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
  • 1995 - named an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of work in the fields of medicine and bioethics.
  • 1996 - part of the group initiative leading to the establishment of the Provincial Health Ethics Network in Alberta, and was Vice-Chair and Executive Director of the Network from 1996-98.
  • 1998 - multi-disciplinary Bioethics Centre was renamed the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre.
  • 2001 - was appointed to the Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation.
  • 2003 - was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Gold Medal.
  • Professor emeritus, University of Alberta.
  • Has 295 medical/scientific publications and has authored or co-authored 10 books.