One of the joys of interviewing specialists is meeting people like Dr. Moshe Szyf, whose dedication, hard work, world view and talent give hope that the world can become a kinder, healthier and more compassionate place!
Professor Szyf received his PhD from the Hebrew University and then did his postdoctoral fellowship in Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He holds “a James McGill Professorship and GlaxoSmithKline-CIHR Chair in Pharmacology”.
One of Professor Szyf’s passions is epigenetics and he is the founding co-director of the Sackler Institute for Epigenetics and Psychobiology at McGill University. He is also a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advance Research Experience-based Brain and Biological Development program.
Professor Szyf’s work has led to real-life actions. He founded the first “Pharma” to develop epigenetic pharmacology, “Methylgene Inc.” To share research in the area of epigenetics, Professor Szyf founded the first journal in epigenetics, called “Epigenetics”. The work of Professor Szyf is leading to therapies in cancer and other diseases. He provided the first set of evidence that “the social environment, early in life, can alter DNA methylation.” The emerging field of “social epigenetics” owes its beginnings to Professor Szyf’s work.
As the KidCareCanada interviews demonstrate, Professor Szyf is also a brilliant teacher and great humanitarian. He is able to explain complex scientific findings in accessible language. At the same time, he explains the importance of creating peace and harmony in families, extended families — and the world! When chatting with Professor Szyf we learned that he initially planned to become a dentist. No doubt he would have changed the world of dentistry had he followed that path, but we are so much in his debt that he changed directions and became a geneticist. Professor Szyf’s personal warmth and wit, when explaining science, are like the “spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.”