Dr. Marshall died at the age of 85 on December 7th, 2023. He was a renowned neurophysiologist, a dedicated teacher and a transformative administrator at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa where he had an illustrious career throughout the decades.
His work on synaptic transmission, the chemical communication between cells in the brain and the spinal cord, allowed us to gain insights into how neurotransmitters contribute to signal processing in the brain. In his work as a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, he established that simple amino acids, including glutamate, can act as neurotransmitters, a ground-breaking discovery that opened a new avenue of research for many other laboratories.
In his own laboratory at the University of Ottawa he made several landmark discoveries related to synaptic transmission. He showed how angiotensin affects excitatory neurotransmission, unveiled how brainstem neurons respond to excitatory and inhibitory amino acids, and established the role of presynaptic metabotropic receptors in the regulation of neurotransmitter release. His work not only enriched the scientific literature and our understanding of how the brain processes information, but also contributed to establishing the University of Ottawa as a key research institute in neuroscience research.
In addition to his scholarly work in the field of neuroscience, Dr. Marshall held a number of significant administrative positions at the University of Ottawa. He served as Chair of the Department of Physiology from 1986 to 1997. During his tenure as Chair he oversaw the merging of the Departments of Pharmacology, Anatomy and Physiology to our current department where he served as the inaugural Chair for one year in 1997. He was the Director of the Graduate Studies from 1996 to 1998, and Vice-Dean of Research from 2002 to 2003. He was also highly involved in UGME, especially in the area of accreditation.
The Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine extends its condolences to Dr. Marshall’s family, his wife Ilona, daughters Andrea and Christine, and his beloved grandchildren.