William FEINDEL 1918-2014

2004 Scientific Scientific

Dr. William Feindel was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, in 1918. After studying at four universities, he became a physiology instructor, teaching at Dalhousie University, McGill University and the Montreal Neurological Institute, where during the War he conducted research on brain and nervous system injuries. He then completed his studies in neuroanatomy at Oxford.  Following his studies in neurology at National Hospital, Queen Square, in London, and in neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) (1949-1953), Dr. Feindel practiced neurosurgery with Wilder Penfield and became a neurosurgery lecturer at McGill. He then spent four years (1955-1959) in Saskatoon where he founded a neurosurgery department at the University of Saskatchewan’s new University Hospital. During this time, he also worked with a multidisciplinary research team and developed the first radioisotopic brain scanner in Canada.

William Feindel returned to McGill and the MNI in 1959 to become the first William Cone professor of neurosurgery and the founder of the Cone Neurosurgery Laboratory. In 1972, he was appointed director of MNI, executive director of the Montreal Neurological Hospital and director of the neurology and neurosurgery department in the faculty of medicine at McGill University. In 1975, he led a team of researchers who were among the first in the world to develop a positron emission tomography (PET) unit and to acquire the first CAT scanner, the first medical cyclotron and the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit in Canada. In October 1984, he returned to full-time neurosurgical practice but still found the time to raise funds and set up research programs for the Brain Imaging Unit.

Over the years, William Feindel has represented several Canadian and international organizations, including the World Health Organization. He has earned many distinctions, including four honoris causa doctorates from four Canadian universities as well as the titles of Officer of the Order of Canada, Grand Officier of the Ordre national du Québec, laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and Member of the Royal Society of Canada. He has been president of the Quebec Association of Neurosurgeons, president of the Canadian Neurological Society and president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery. He has published over 450 articles in various medical and scientific journals and has written or edited six books.

Today, William Feindel is a professor of neurosurgery at McGill University and senior neurosurgery consultant for the Neurology Hospital and the McGill University Health Centre. He continues to express his admiration and a great interest in Doctor Thomas Willis (1621-1675), the founder of neurology. He directs research for the neuro-history project and devotes time to writing the official history of the Montreal Neurological Institute. Dr. Feindel is curator of the Wilder Penfield Archive, member of the Board of Curators, honorary librarian of the Osler Library and past president of the James McGill Society.