A father of mucosal immunology | True scientific visionary | Exceptional leader and teacher | Internationally respected innovative research pioneer
Born in Budapest, Hungary, John Bienenstock, MD began his distinguished career in Canada in 1968, joining McMaster University as an assistant professor in medicine and pathology. John spent the next several decades conducting foundational research at McMaster, where he was one of the first to identify the T cell-dependant mucosal mast cell as a major effector cell of parasite gut immunity.
A natural leader, Dr. Bienenstock was chair of the Department of Pathology from 1978 to 1989, and dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster from 1989 to 1997. He recognized the value in teamwork and was known for establishing a substantial research infrastructure that brought together scientists and clinicians from across disciplines.
In 2008, the McMaster Brain Body Institute was established at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, where Dr. Bienenstock remained active in his research while serving as Director. The Institute serves as a symbol of John’s vision that great research is a co-operative venture. Dr. Bienenstock’s impact is found not only in research but, also, in tangible improvements in patients’ lives as his findings led to the introduction of novel medicines and therapeutic approaches in allergy and mucosal immunology.
“St. Joseph’s research community is grieving an immense loss of a wonderful colleague and friend. While the global scientific community will remember him for his laudable contributions to our understanding of mucosal immunology and the interactions between the nervous and immune systems, we at St. Joe’s will miss him for his generosity, scientific curiosity, mentorship and his kindness,” Lehana Thabane, Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University and Vice President, Research, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton