In Memoriam: Dr. Vladimir Sistek

Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Photo of a white rose

The Faculty of Medicine mourns the passing of emeritus professor Dr. Vladimir Sistek, a renowned anatomist, pillar of excellence in teaching, and champion of curriculum reform in undergraduate medical education.

Dr. Vladimir Sistek was a long-serving professor in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Anatomy. He was educated in Prague of then-Czechoslovakia, receiving his MD from Charles University in Prague in 1956 and a PhD in 1967. He began his teaching career in Czechoslovakia 1963, arriving in Ottawa in 1968 to begin with the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine as an assistant professor in the Department.

Dr. Sistek made outstanding contributions to life at the Faculty of Medicine. He played a major role in ongoing curriculum reform within the undergraduate medical education program, displaying a highly effective leadership in corralling resources and support. In 2002, he was appointed emeritus professor with the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM), to which the anatomy department belonged at the time.

Peers and students have long held a profound respect for Dr. Sistek’s overarching legacy, that of his dedication to excellence in teaching. He taught his medical students with a humour, gentleness and wisdom that not only imparted the anatomical foundations of medicine to his learners, but that formed true and lasting bonds with them.

This attachment with his students brought him great rewards. Twice he was voted Honorary President of the Aesculapian Society, the student governing body, as well as Honorary President of the Graduating Class, in 1975 and again in 1997. His students also showed their appreciation for his teaching by nominating him for the Bristol-Myers-Squibb Award for Excellence in Medical Teaching, presented to him in 1985 and again in 1993, a testament to his lasting impact on his pupils.

His devotion to teaching excellence was also recognized by his peers. He received the University of Ottawa-APUO-Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1981, and in 1986 he was recognized with a 3M Teaching Fellowship.

As well, the Faculty of Medicine presented Dr. Sistek with two Awards of Excellence, starting with one of its earlier ones in 1992, the School of Medicine Award for Excellence in Medical Teaching. In 2003, the Faculty announced Dr. Sistek as the recipient of the Architect Award for which, with co-recipient Dr. Susan Tolnai, he was lauded as working to advance the cause of the Faculty and improve the student experience with integrity, dedication, honesty and quality, alongside personal qualities of humour, respect, humility and transparency.

The Faculty dedicated room 2240 of Roger Guindon Hall the Sistek Laboratory for Anatomical Sciences in his honour. This main anatomy teaching and dissection laboratory has hosted generations of medical students as they learn from our donors, gain insight into the rich tapestry of tissues and organs we are made of, and begin to appreciate the common features as well as variability that their patients will possess.

Dr. Maxwell Hincke was the founding head of the Division of Clinical and Functional Anatomy which, after Dr. Sistek’s retirement in 1998, regrouped the anatomy resources and responsibilities as a separate administrative unit within CMM. Dr. Hincke feels a deep gratitude for the guidance Dr. Sistek shared with him early on in his career.

“He was my mentor and strongly supportive as I took on increasing faculty leadership roles, and I will remember him fondly,” says Dr. Hincke. “He was unflinching in support of teaching excellence and a passionate advocate for medical students.”

Dr. Sistek’s legacy as a cherished mentor and leader is reflected in the words of many around the Faculty, and he will be greatly missed. The community will continue to remember his prominent role in laying the foundation of the medical education program, and as a prime contributor to the success of the UGME program today.

Read a full tribute to Dr. Sistek in the Faculty of Medicine’s 2004 Perspectives newsletter on the occasion of his being awarded the 2003 Architect Award.

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

A funeral service will be held on September 25 at 2:00 p.m. at Capital Funeral Home, 3700 Prince of Wales Drive.

View the obituary. | Leave a message of sympathy.

Dr. Vladimir Sistek teaching a class.

Dr. Vladimir Sistek began his teaching career in then-Czechoslovakia in 1963, arriving in Ottawa in 1968 to begin with the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine as an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy. Photo credit : University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

Two men shaking hands.

Dr. Sistek (left) at his retirement celebration in 1998 with chief prosector and good friend Michael Simmons. Photo credit : University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Vladimir Sistek

Dr. Sistek’s legacy as a cherished mentor and leader is reflected in the words of many around the Faculty. Photo credit : The Sistek family


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