Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

“The one thing I've never given up is teaching.”

© Irma Coucill and CMHF
2010 Inductee

Phil Gold, MD PhD

September 17, 1936
MD, PhD - McGill University
In 1965, Dr. Gold and his colleague Dr. Samuel Freedman published a seminal paper on their groundbreaking discovery of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), the first clinically-useful human tumour marker and one that is found in 70% of cancer patients. It was a concept-shifting discovery and helped shape the modern era of cancer immunology and tumour markers. This marker remains the most frequently used blood test in oncology around the world today, in addition to being the standard against which other human tumour markers are measured. Through this work, Dr. Gold is credited for developing the field of Human Tumour Marker Biology. His subsequent demonstration that CEA was found in embryonic and fetal tissue initiated the field of Oncodevelopmental Biology.

Dr. Phil Gold was born in Montreal and has remained faithful to his native city for most of his life. A brilliant mind with a distinguished record of scientific achievement in immunology and cancer, Dr. Gold is known to many as a caring physician, humanitarian, gifted teacher and inspirational leader. He represents all that is good in Canadian medicine.

The impact of the CEA discovery, along with other work in the division of clinical immunology and allergy at the Montreal General Hospital, led to the establishment of the McGill Cancer Centre (MCC) in 1974. Thirty-five years later, Dr. Gold’s original dream of creating a first-rate cancer centre by centralizing the efforts of McGill University and its affiliated hospitals has been realized. The MCC is one of the top cancer research institutes in the country.

Perhaps Dr. Gold’s most outstanding quality is related to what he loves best – teaching. Dr. Gold cares deeply about his students and residents. This combined with his passion for medicine and science, means that no student ever forgets a session with him. He has been instrumental in establishing national programs aimed at inspiring the next generation of clinician-scientists, and has raised extraordinary sums of money for the medical community.

Dr. Gold has been the recipient of numerous international awards and been elected to many prestigious scientific organizations. National, provincial and local recognition includes being made a Companion of the Order of Canada (1986), an Officer of l’Ordre nationale du Québec (1989), and a member of the Academy of Great Montrealers (1986). He received the Gairdner Foundation International Award (with Dr. Freedman, 1978) and the F.N.G. Starr Award from the Canadian Medical Association (1986).

Video: McGill Dances for Cancer Research ft. Phil Gold, MD PhD