Jack V. Tu, Tireless Cardiovascular Researcher and Mentor, Dies at 53

After graduating from medical school at age 23, he built a legacy of professionalism, kindness, and dedication to improving quality of care.

Jack V. Tu, Tireless Cardiovascular Researcher and Mentor, Dies at 53

Jack V. Tu, MD, MSc, PhD, a leading cardiovascular epidemiology researcher and a figurehead at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto, Canada, for nearly 20 years, died suddenly at home on May 30, 2018. He was 53 years old.

“Jack was an exceptional individual—kind, thoughtful, collegial, collaborative,” Harlan Krumholz, MD (Yale University, New Haven, CT), told TCTMD in an email. “He was beloved by his team, colleagues, and friends. He commanded great respect because of the strength of his ideas and the highly professional way he conducted himself.” Krumholz added that Tu’s death came as a great shock and loss “not only to his family, friends, and colleagues, but also to the world at large.”

Our field has lost one of its great quiet giants. Eric Peterson

Tu joined Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto in 1996 and ICES in 2000, where as a senior scientist he led the cardiovascular outcomes group. In 2006, he became a staff physician in Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Centre. For many years he had also served as a professor in the department of medicine and at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, building a reputation as a beloved mentor.

In an email to TCTMD, colleague and friend Eric Peterson, MD (Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, NC), said he was deeply saddened by the news of Tu’s passing.

“Our field has lost one of its great quiet giants. Jack’s work was always innovative, well done, and directed to helping to promote quality of care,” he recalled. “As a person, Jack was very kind and thoughtful. His work will live on in the programs he built and the mentees he raised.”

A prolific investigator, Tu held a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research and had published over 300 peer-reviewed journal articles, including 130 in the last 5 years alone. In 2007, he was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research, the most prestigious salary award the federal government bestows, which he held continuously. He received the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Article of the Year award in 2010 for a randomized controlled trial showing that public reporting does not improve the quality of cardiac care. 

Following his death, colleagues and friends took to Twitter to remember Tu.






Titan of Cardiology and Child Prodigy

In an interview with TCTMD, colleague Jacob A. Udell, MD, MPH (University of Toronto, Canada), called Tu a “titan of cardiology,” with endless energy.

“Jack was one of the top publishers in cardiology in the area of implementation sciences as well as health services research,” he said. “I personally learned a lot from his mentorship and through working on a number of papers together. Many people around the world who are already themselves independently considered high-level researchers in the field began their careers working with Jack. His impact on them and others whose lives he touched is incalculable.”

Udell described Tu as a child prodigy who graduated from medical school at age 23. Despite his early and untimely death, Udell said, Tu tirelessly spent 30 years working in a field he loved and making a difference for patients with cardiovascular disease.

His impact on them and others whose lives he touched is incalculable. Jacob A. Udell

In an email, Edward L. Hannan, PhD (University at Albany School of Public Health, Rensselaer, NY), noted to TCTMD that he had the privilege of working with Tu in the early 90s at the start of his cardiovascular outcomes research career and had worked on several studies with him since.

“Jack was a world-class outcomes researcher whose accomplishments and contributions to cardiovascular healthcare in Canada and the world are simply extraordinary,” Hannan said. “Most importantly, he was as fine a person as he was a researcher.”

Photo Credit: University of Toronto

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