Meakins-Christie Laboratories Research Directors and Advisory Board
Peter T Macklem (1972-1979)
The late Dr. Peter Macklem was the founding director of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. Born in 1931, Peter grew up in Kingston, ON, Canada. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University and an MD from McGill University Medical School in 1956. He pursued his residency training in internal medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital (Montreal). He then received his research training in the Cardio-Pulmonary Service under Dr. Margaret Becklake. His interest in respiratory mechanics was further developed with Dr. Jere Mead at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA, USA. Following his return to Montreal and for the rest of his career he investigated various aspects of the respiratory system with a biophysical perspective. He founded the Meakins-Christie Laboratories in 1972 and was director until his appointment as Physician in Chief of the Royal Victoria Hospital and Chair of the Department of Medicine at McGill in 1979. Among his many contributions to respiratory physiology and medicine were the notion of equal pressure points determining flow limitation during forced expiration, the importance of small airways in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the concept that respiratory muscles, like other skeletal muscles could undergo fatigue. Peter was a highly decorated scientist and won many awards. This included his induction into the Royal Society and the Order of Canada. Peter also received the Trudeau medal of the American Lung Association, a European Respiratory Society Congress Chairman Award, and honorary doctorates from the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the University of Athens. He set high standards for research at McGill and was a true Canadian icon.
Joseph Milic-Emili (1979-1994)
Joseph Milic-Emili was born in 1931 in the village of Sezana, then part of Italy, but now in Slovenia. After obtaining his medical degree from the University of Milan in 1955, he was appointed Assistant Professor in the Dept of Physiology in that institution, and carried out research in the area of exercise physiology with Professor Rodolfo Margaria. He was enticed to move to the University of Liège in 1958 by the Belgian physiologist Jean-Marie Petit, with whom he developed methods to measure pleural pressure with esophageal balloons as well as the electrical activity of the diaphragm using esophagial electrodes. In 1960 Milic moved to Boston to work at the Harvard School of Public Health. His research there resulted in a landmark paper with Jere Mead on the measurement of pleural pressure, which has been cited nearly 1100 times and continues to be cited even now (as of 2012). In 1963, at the invitation of Professor David Bates, Milic moved to McGill University, where he spent the remainder of his career. His initial work at McGill on the regional distribution of inspired gas in the lung using radioactive xenon resulted in a landmark paper published in 1966. He examined respiratory mechanics in mechanically ventilated patients and developed the negative expiratory pressure technique to detect expiratory flow limitation in ICU patients. Milic was Chairman of the Dept of Physiology at McGill between 1973 and 1978, prior to becoming Director of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories in 1979. Throughout his career he received many honors and distinctions. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1980 and inducted into the Order of Canada in 1990. He was granted the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by the Université Catholique de Louvain (1987), the University of Kunming (1988), Université de Montpellier (1994), the University of Athens (1999), and the University of Ljubljana (1999). He was appointed Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Physiology and Medicine at McGill in 1998. For anecdotes about Milic’s career see papers in J Anesth (2002) and Am J Respir Crit Care Med (2003).