DLSPH Remembers Professor Kang Laiyi

October 11/2019

The DLSPH community mourns Professor Kang Laiyi — an internationally recognized researcher in HIV, AIDS and infectious disease — who died on October 5, 2019 at the age of 84.

“Dr. Kang was a visionary who was at the forefront of promoting global collaboration as key to effectively dealing with public health issues. He was a compassionate and committed practitioner who cared deeply for public health and training future health leaders,” said Professor Liviana Calzavara, Professor Emerita of Social and Behavioural Health Sciences and a long-time colleague and friend who collaborated on two major landmark research and capacity building projects with him.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Calzavara and Kang led the first Memorandum of Understanding between DLSPH and the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Shanghai CDC) to link research and training in public health, HIV and STIs between both institutions. They also launched two landmark projects that brought together Canadian and Chinese scientists, researchers, public health professionals, health care practitioners, community and students to create a collaborative network of research and training.

Kang was an adjunct professor in DLSPH’s Social and Behavioural Health Sciences. His work in HIV and AIDS focused on epidemiological research, laboratory research, clinical evaluation and disease control. He studied AIDS and STI intervention among different target groups, and helped evaluate a Chinese herb for AIDS treatment.

He was Chief Physician and the only emeritus professor at the Shanghai CDC, Deputy Director of the Shanghai Center for AIDS and HIV Research, and Executive Director of the Advisory Committee of Shanghai Field Epidemiology Training Program.

He graduated from Shanghai First Medical College in 1957 and also held a postgraduate degree in Epidemiology from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine (now the DLSPH), where he received the International Development Research Centre Award.

His U of T colleagues as well as those he worked with across Canada agree that his collaborative work had a tremendous impact on people living with HIV and AIDS in China and globally.

Here’s what a few of Kang’s collaborators shared with Calzavara upon news of his passing:

“He was a remarkable man and very committed to doing the best for those under his care.”

“He was a wonderful force and very interesting person.”

“He was always a gentleman, and very, very kind. He also had such interest in things as a true curious scholar.”

“Dr. Kang was a legend. It was clear from my visit to SCDC in the way [people] spoke of Dr. Kang and his mentorship and work. I am lucky to have had the chance to meet him in Toronto during that first project meeting after I joined the team.”

“He was a respected leader amongst his colleagues and a very strong advocate in advancing HIV research and programs in Shanghai, China. I have learnt much from him and enjoyed his kindness and hospitality on our many previous visits to China.”

A memorial service will be held on October 15, 2019 at Longhua Funeral Hall in Shanghai, China.

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