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It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Dr. Lou Siminovitch.

The following is a message from Siminovitch Prize Laureate John Mighton on what spending time with Lou meant to him.


A great deal has been written about Dr. Lou Siminovitch’s world-changing scientific achievements. I won’t try to add to the discussions about his intellectual work, but I’ll share an observation about an aspect of his character and spirit that became apparent to me in our conversations and in conversations with people who have benefited from the Siminovitch Prize.

Given the scale of his accomplishments, Lou may well have been the most humble person I’ve ever met. And he also had one of the most engaged and curious minds I’ve ever encountered.  At Siminovitch Prize celebrations, Lou never spoke about himself or his remarkable accomplishments. He cared more about getting to know the people at the events, and his conversations were animated by a genuine curiosity about how artists work and think and make discoveries.

I believe these two sides of his personality – his deep humility and his intense sense of curiosity – were connected and help explain how a single individual could change so many lives and so many fields of thought for the better.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote “It’s a universal law of education– intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with an arrogant impatience, whereas a truly profound education breeds humility.”  I expect that Lou’s natural humility was constantly enhanced by the profound breadth and depth of his experience. And his humility gave him an openness to failure and self-doubt that a person must embrace to gain that experience and to become a great scientist.

Lou and Elinore Siminovitch were both passionate innovators in the arts and sciences and they shared a similar breadth of interests.  The award they inspired has given many artists the means and impetus they needed to follow their own curiosity, and to become better artists by constantly learning and taking risks.

In a time when ignorance often holds more sway than science, and when people are driven to act with arrogant impatience, Lou’s character and spirit should give us hope.  We have lost someone who exemplifies the kind of thinker and citizen we need now more than ever. But from the outpouring of grief and appreciation that has come with the news of his death, it’s clear that Lou will continue to teach and inspire us even in his passing, and that his example will help us find a way forward.

John Mighton, 2005 Siminovitch Prize Laureate


You are welcome to add your thoughts and memories in the comments below. These will be shared with the Siminovitch family.

Please also consider joining us for the next Siminovitch Forum honouring Lou and Elinore and the award they inspired.

Key to Creativity: The Intersection Between Art and Science
April 29, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET
Register here

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Canada has lost a scientist whose contributions influenced all areas of science in Canada. His unique insights and analyses will be missed by all, but his legacy will live on in the scientists he has trained and mentored over his long career.
    I have lost a good friend and mentor. Lou offered me my first job when I was a post-doc at Princess Margaret Hospital in 1967. He was one of my mentors during my early scientific career and also later when I took on positions in research administrations. We met frequently over the past 30 years to discuss research, research policy as well as personal issues like family. I will greatly miss our discussions.

  2. Lou Siminovitch was a giant in his field. And a wonderful person whose endless curiosity and engaging smile enriched the lives of everyone who came in contact with him. The Siminovitch Prize speaks to the breadth of his commitments and his deep understanding of the threads that connect us all across disciplines. This was a life truly well lived. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

  3. Very sad to hear about the passing of Dr. Lou Siminovitch. Although I am a relatively new laureate (2019), being a part of the Siminovitch Prize legacy has meant so much to me, and has continued to bolster my artistic practice throughout a very challenging time for the world and the arts. I will never forget the warmth and kindness of Dr. Lou and the Siminovitch family — it’s the kind of generosity of spirit and genuine interest and support that is rare and illuminating, elevating and deeply inspiring. Thank you, Dr Lou. My heartfelt condolences go out to Kathy and Margo and the entire Siminovitch family and community. Sending love from the west.

  4. My deepest condolences to the Siminovitch Family. You father was a magnificent citizen and an extraordinary human being. He gave so much to the world and I share your tremendous grief at his passing. He was so proud of you and his brilliance and sense of curiosity and passion for advancement will carry on. We have lost a true pioneer and an enduring legend.

    sincerely,
    Atom Egoyan C.C.

  5. Although I am very sad to hear of Dr. Lou Siminovitch’s passing, I am very inspired by the meaningful legacy that he has left in his wife’s honour. May theatre artists and audiences continue to be uplifted by this gift.

  6. Merci, Lou, pour tout ce vous avez faites pour le théâtre au Canada. We are all the beneficiaries of your vision and wisdom. La vie est facile; l’art est difficile. You will be missed in this world where tout le monde a des réponses et pas assez de gens posent des questions. John et Anne Van Burek

  7. C’est avec beaucoup de tristesse que j’apprends le départ de M. Siminovitch. Nous perdons un homme généreux, intelligent, exceptionnel pour lequel j’avais beaucoup d’affection. Mes plus sincères condoléances à la famille Siminovitch.

  8. We have a lost a Canadian icon. Lou was both a visionary and a facilitator in all he did! Condolences to the entire family…..May our hero rest in peace….

  9. My deep and heartfelt condolences to the entire Siminovitch Family on the profound loss of this extraordinary man, and to his dear friends, colleagues and the many artists who were touched by Dr. Siminovitch’s knowledge, mentorship, friendship, kindness, support and generosity. He is remembered with enormous admiration and respect.

  10. What a truly remarkable individual and what an extraordinary life lived. It is so rare and such a gift to have spent time with someone as capable of the clear kindness and generosity of spirit as Lou Siminovitch. All my best wishes to Kathy and Margo and the rest of the Siminovitch family. The legacy you have gifted the arts community is monumental and endlessly affirming.

  11. My deepest condolences to the Siminovitch family and friends on the loss of this wonderful human being, whose reach was wide and deep. I am grateful to have been able to bear witness to the impact of his contribution to so many incredible artists. He will be missed.

  12. My very sincere condolences to the Siminovitch family. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Siminovitch in the 1990s through the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (ORDCF) and relished every opportunity I had to engage with him. We reconnected years later and our conversation carried on as if no time had passed! He was a remarkable Canadian who will truly be missed! Rest In Peace Lou.

  13. We are so very lucky to have had Dr Siminovitch among us. His generosity changed our community and his spirit reached out and touched us all. To the family our thanks and love

  14. Lou was a tremendous mentor and will be hugely missed by myself and the many scientists he supported in Toronto and elsewhere. He suffered fools badly and had a level of tenacity that glue makers would die for. He came to his office space at Mount Sinai Hospital through the pandemic to the amazement of none who really knew him. As inaugural director of research, he was the architect of what is now the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, which was today, celebrating the honour of one of its scientists, Dan Drucker, winning a Gairdner International Award (Lou was a recipient of the Gairdner Wightman award in 1981). Lou knew about Dan and was thrilled, as he was about medical research. But he also recognized the equally important influence of art on society and was a prodigious consumer of literature, music and live theatre. Never a man without words and usually without a tie (as the photographs above attest), Lou has left a legacy second to none – in both science and the arts. An amazing Canadian.

  15. Dear Siminovitch family and community – I am sorry to hear about the passing of Lou. I remember the first time i met Lou Siminovitch and all the times that followed. I was struck by his widening compassion, attentive presence and curiosity for those around him; and i was privileged to fall into his orbit of kindness a few times. It marked a turning point of how i thought about receptions; after meeting Lou, and his family too, i knew receptions can be the sphere where you meet the most wonderful humans. A wonderful human indeed. He will be missed.

  16. A quote from me about Lou is available via the Gairdner Foundation website at:
    https://gairdner.org/in-memory-of-lou-siminovitch-a-true-mensch/

    His many scientific contributions are mentioned, but not the Elinor and Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. My bad.

    Elinor and Lou provided an impressive example of how the arts and sciences can complement each other.

    Elinor was very talented. My wife Joyce and I agree that she was also one of the nicest people we have ever met.

    Sincere condolences to the Siminovitch family.

  17. I am eternally grateful to Lou for his many “interventions”, both direct and more subtle, that profoundly influenced my scientific and subsequent business career. He was a tireless champion for those in whom he believed and we all benefited greatly.

    Through my wife Heather’s passion for the theatre we came to know Eleanor and through my conversations with Lou I learned what a powerful force she had been in his life.

    We remember you fondly Lou, and offer our sympathy to Kathy and the rest of the family.

    Jeremy and Heather

  18. So sorry to learn of Lou’s passing…one of those guys I thought could live forever… Love to Kathy, Eli, Emma and Michael and all the family.
    Your loss is your own, but he had so much impact, now you must share it with a whole whack of people…That is a pretty cool thing. Really.
    . Big love to you, and yours
    xoxo
    ‘Morah Lucky’

  19. My deepest condolences to the Siminovitch family, as well as to his community of friends and colleagues. I never met the doctor, but my father was a distant colleague at the University of Toronto during a time of inspired scientific activity, while a burgeoning Canadian arts scene kept pace. My father impressed upon me that Dr. Siminovitch was “a great scientist, but also a very good man” who found connections and parallels between art and science — and was able, remarkably, to advance both.

  20. My deepest condolences to the Siminovitch family, as well as to his community of friends and colleagues. I never met the doctor, but my father was a distant colleague at the University of Toronto during a time of inspired scientific activity, while a burgeoning Canadian arts scene kept pace. My father impressed upon me that Dr. Siminovitch was “a great scientist, but also a very good man” who found connections and parallels between art and science — and was able, remarkably, to advance both.

  21. I was extremely fortunate to have Lou Siminovitch as my mentor during my postdoctoral fellowship in his lab years ago. His keen insights and astute advice have guided me throughout my scientific career. Lou’s generous and enthusiastic mentorship was for life, I found out, and extended to my husband Richard. We were delighted to host him on occasion during his trips to New York, and to visit with him at Mount Sinai when we came to Toronto. Always on the alert for the unpredictable, and ready with a quizzical and pointed question! Unfortunately, our stay in Toronto was long before the advent of the Siminovitch theater prize. What a great legacy! Our thoughts and deep condolences to the Siminovitch family.

  22. I met Lou Siminovitch 27 years ago when I first applied for a job in Toronto. His advice was blunt, accurate and as timely today as it was then. He passed this skill on to his daughter Katherine who became a trusted colleague and friend.
    In recent years, our chats focused more on his voracious reading habits – incredibly diverse. I was always struck by his humility and self-deprecating humor. He taught us all a lot about loving life!

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