In Memoriam: Dr. Jean Himms-Hagen

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2022

A bouquet of pink lilies lying on a table

It is with great sadness that we convey the news that Professor Emeritus Jean Himms-Hagen passed away on December 1, 2021. Dr. Himms-Hagen will be fondly remembered by many for her exceptional contributions to teaching and research in the area of metabolic biochemistry, and for her extensive service and leadership at the University of Ottawa, the Medical Research Council (MRC) of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), many scientific societies and beyond. 

After a PhD from Oxford University and postdoctoral training at Harvard University, Dr. Himms-Hagen held initial faculty appointments at the University of Manitoba and Queen’s University. She joined the University of Ottawa as an associate professor of biochemistry in 1967 and became an emeritus professor with the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology in 1999 . Amongst her many awards and honours were the Ayerst Award (1973, Canadian Biochemical Society), Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1980), Faculty of Medicine Researcher of the Year (1984), MRC President’s Award (for 35 years of continuous support), and the Dean’s Award of Excellence (1995). Dr. Himms-Hagen published extensively, having made ground-breaking discoveries into the control of brown adipose tissue thermogenesis in relation to thermoregulation and obesity.

Seventeen PhD and four MSc students will remember her as a wise and trustworthy supervisor and mentor, and many of her graduate students have now established successful careers in research and clinical medicine. Beyond her many teaching and research successes, she actively contributed to university life: Dr. Himms-Hagen chaired the Department of Biochemistry from 1977 to 1982, and was an active member of countless committees. Her contributions to research continue to be honoured in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology in the form of the annual Jean Himms-Hagen Research Excellence Award, which was established in 2014.

Dr. Himms-Hagen is survived by her daughter, Dr. Anna Hagen, and family of Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the family as well as her friends and colleagues.

Dr. Jean Himms-Hagen

Photo courtesy Dr. Anna Hagen


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