The Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (LDI) opened its doors in 1969, some 30 years after the founding of its parent institution, Montreal’s world-renowned Jewish General Hospital (JGH).
The story of the LDI began three years earlier, when the non-profit Eldee Foundation initiated talks with the JGH with a view to funding a medical research institute at the hospital. The Eldee Foundation was founded several years earlier by the late Lady Henrietta Davis, widow of the philanthropist Sir Mortimer B. Davis, a major supporter of the JGH.
The Directors of the JGH Foundation recognized the need to accelerate the pace of medical research in an increasingly complex era of high-technology medicine. In collaboration with the Eldee Foundation, they offered to provide the financial resources necessary for the construction and establishment of a modern, fully-equipped facility that would enable the JGH to significantly expand its existing medical research program. The Board of Directors of the JGH enthusiastically accepted the proposal, and the project quickly accelerated. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in an empty lot on the corner of Cote Ste. Catherine Road and Légaré Street on April 16, 1968. The LDI was open and operating just over a year later.
For its first two decades, the LDI flourished under the direction of Dr. Norman Kalant and became one of the most important medical research institutes in Quebec and Canada. In 1991, upon the retirement of Dr. Kalant, Dr. Samuel O. Freedman, former Dean of Medicine and former Vice-Principal (Academic) of McGill University was named Director of Research at the LDI and the JGH. In 2000 Dr. Freedman retired and world-renowned AIDS investigator Dr. Mark A. Wainberg took on the role of director. In late 2009, Dr. Wainberg in turn stepped aside to focus on his laboratory research, and the mantle of director was passed to the noted geneticist Dr. Roderick R. McInnes.
The first major expansion of the Lady Davis Institute was completed in January of 1992, with the addition of four new floors and laboratories. The expanded Institute was officially opened in May 1992.
In August of 2006, two additional floors of laboratories were added in the adjacent Pavilion E to accommodate the basic science laboratories of the Segal Cancer Centre. These new laboratories – which added 40,000 square feet of research space to the Institute – are linked by a bridge to the original LDI building. As of this writing, the total research space available exceeds 165,000 square feet of laboratory and clinical research facilities in the original Lady Davis Institute, the Segal Cancer Centre, the JGH Institute for Community Family Psychiatry, and the JGH Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Community Studies.
The LDI is an integral part of the Jewish General Hospital and has strong academic links to McGill University. All basic science and clinical investigators at the LDI have university appointments. The LDI boasts more than 200 researchers, 100 administrative and support staff, and about 175 post-graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who receive their research training at the Institute yearly.
Over the years, the LDI has been remarkably successful in attracting outstanding investigators with national and international reputations. Special areas of interest include Cancer Therapeutics, Molecular Oncology, Cell and Gene Therapy, AIDS/HIV, Aging, Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease, Clinical Epidemiology, and Psychosocial Aspects of Disease. The LDI is one of the most productive hospital-based research institutes in Canada and Quebec in terms of peer-reviewed grant funding per square feet.