In memoriam -Alan Groom

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We are saddened to announce that Professor Emeritus and Former Chair of the Department of Medical Biophysics, Dr. Alan C. Groom PhD passed away January 9, 2013, only weeks after his beloved wife died. Alan had been a steadfast and devoted caregiver and companion for Elizabeth during her years of declining health. Although frail, Alan was in a friendly mood at the reception following the memorial church service for Elizabeth and chatted with the dozens of friends and colleagues.

Visitation will be held on Friday, January 18 from 7-9 pm at the James A. Harris Funeral Home, 220 St. James St. at Richmond, London. A memorial service will be conducted at New St. James Presbyterian Church, 280 Oxford St. at Wellington, London on Saturday, January 19 at 1:30 pm. Reception to follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Dr. Alan C. Groom Memorial Fund at Western, or to World Vision Canada. To contribute to the Alan C. Groom Memorial Fund at Western, please contact Donna Swanson at Foundation Western 519-661-3140 or donate online at

Alan had a very distinguished research career in cardiovascular biophysics, and served as Biophysics Department Chair at Western, 1978 - 1987. He received his university education in Britain - BSc in Physics and Mathematics (London University, UK) and PhD, Biophysics (London University, UK) and was a faculty member in the Department of Physics, St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, University of London, when recruited to join Biophysics at Western in 1966. Faculty and students in our department soon learned of his enjoyment of humorous poetry. On occasion at coffee time he would face off with the chair of the department, Alan C. Burton, reciting British lyrics picked up in air-raid shelters in London during the war.

Alan and his students have been at the forefront in quantitative research on the microcirculation, with extensive studies on the spleen and skeletal muscle - leading to intravital video microscopy in small living animals for the study of cancer metastasis. Throughout his career at Western Alan maintained continuous grant funding for research from both the MRC and from the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He was a wonderful mentor and colleague, giving willingly whenever asked for help, and he had such a gentle way to give advice or criticism.

During his tenure as chair, Alan worked with the two leading imaging scientists at Western, Frank Prato and Aaron Fenster, to establish medical imaging as a new field for the expanding graduate program. Alan had an excellent record as a classroom teacher, not only for science undergraduates, but also for medical and dental students. Whenever possible he would demonstrate concepts through his own acting and sense of humour; for example, when underscoring the concept of 'random walk' for diffusion of molecules, he would demonstrate at the front of the class the directionless lurching gait of an inebriated patron looking for home after a pub's closing time.

He was one of the first recipients of the Dean's Award of Excellence for contributions to teaching and research. Alan's noted awards in research are - Medical Research Council Scholar (Canada), the Eugene M. Landis Research Award from the Microcirculatory Society of North America, and the Hermann Rahn Memorial Lecturer, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, SUNY at Buffalo. He also served as President of the Biophysical Society of Canada, 1988 - 1990, and President of the American Microcirculatory Society, 1983 - 1984.

Around the time of his retirement Alan directed his research energy to the study of tumour metastasis and related research, joining Ann Chambers and colleagues from the Departments of Oncology and Medical Biophysics, and their students. Through this post-retirement partnership Alan coauthored 34 scientific papers.

It is indeed uplifting to review Alan's wonderful university career but the realization that he is no longer here for a chat over a cup of tea leaves deep sadness in its wake.

-Peter Canham, Professor Emeritus and Former Chair, Medical Biophysics

-Jerry Battista, Chair, Medical Biophysics