Remembering Dr. Jay Keystone (1942-​2019)

October 28/2019

“That’s the sad thing with life,
There’s people always leavin’ just as other folks arrive”

— Josh Ritter

The DLSPH community mourns Dr. Jay Keystone — a giant in the worlds of tropical medicine, travel medicine, public health and medical education — who died on September 3, 2019 after a long battle with cancer.

“As a relatively new arrival in the University of Toronto system myself, I was not lucky enough to learn from Jay as a resident, but he was an open and friendly colleague who was always available to share his wisdom and his thoughts on interesting cases,” said Professor David Fisman, Epidemiology Division Head at DLSPH.

Keystone was an outstanding clinician and teacher. His clinical teaching and lectures were legendary both for their scholarly breadth and for their humour, which could, at times, be side-splittingly funny.  His humour put students and patients at ease with him, and also made the content of his lectures memorable.

He founded the Toronto General Hospital’s Tropical Disease Unit in 1976, and was in great demand for more than 40 years as a lecturer, teacher and consultant.  He left behind him a landmark textbook on Travel Medicine (a discipline he helped found) and was awarded the Order of Canada for his scholarly contributions in 2016.

He mentored scores of students, residents and fellows. His funeral was achingly sad, but punctuated by laughter as his kids, friends and trainees shared his stories, jokes and aphorisms.

As Keystone said: “Humour is an important tool in the practice of medicine: in teaching I use it to engage the learner; in practice it creates a relationship between me and the patient that levels the playing field and puts them at ease.”

“I’ll never forget his elaborate lectures on the benefits of travelling with an inflatable automobile passenger, complete with carrying case, his endorsement of a device that allows women to pee standing up, or his vaudeville routine on the tribulations of unfortunate botfly larvae extracted in his clinic using a snake venom extractor. Spoiler: they’re at risk for head injuries,” said Fisman.

“Travel well, Jay.  We miss you.”

Click here to read Professor Keystone’s obituary on

Click here to read Professor Keystone’s obituary in The Varsity.

Photo courtesy of UHN.