I am immensely proud and grateful for the recognition my father’s work has received
On April 7, 2021, Dr. Dan Drucker received the 2021 Canada Gairdner International Award for his research—focused on glucagon-like peptides— that has revolutionized treatments for those living with metabolic disorders.
But, whether it was humility, or a focus on the following week’s Insulin 100 Scientific Symposium—a conference that was years in the making and brought together more than 5,000 researchers, scientists and educators from around the world—Dan kept the Canada Gairdner International Award announcement a well-guarded secret. Dan’s family was informed a mere hours before the ceremony via email with a link for them to register for the Gairdner Award Announcement.
The Department of Medicine—and Dan's family—wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate him. We thought who better to toast Dan’s illustrious career than his son, Dr. Aaron Drucker.
How did your mother and father inspire you to pursue medicine?
Growing up, I lived with parents who were both happy in their jobs. They love what they do, they’re proud of what they do, and they make a positive impact on people’s lives. Patients approach them in line at grocery stores to say thank you—this still happens to my dad who hasn’t practiced for 10 years. Being exposed to that as a child, medicine was my aspiration for as long as I can remember. I’m privileged to have parents whose work brings them fulfillment, and to have been given opportunities to follow in their footsteps.
Not that my parents pressured me into it (medicine)—I have two brothers who are not physicians and I don’t think they ever considered it. My mom likes to joke that I’m the only one of the three brothers that she has pictures of using a toy stethoscope on a teddy bear.
Both you and your father are clinician-scientists. What compelled you to pursue a CS position description?
With all of the gut peptide drugs on the market now, it can seem like the impact of my dad’s work was inevitable. In reality, he started in what was at the time an obscure research area that he wasn’t all that excited about. He had incredible patience and put in hours of work to see it through. I remember him bringing me to the basement of TGH on the weekend because he had to go in to feed the lab mice. While his work ethic is inspiring and something I try to emulate, for better or worse, I do not have his patience. During residency and fellowship I was exposed to epidemiology, pharmacoepidemiology and evidence-based medicine, tools that can leverage previous hard-won discoveries to optimize outcomes for patients.
Your father was recently awarded the Canada Gairdner International Award. How did you hear, what were your thoughts, and can you tell us a little about the conversation you and your father may have had when you heard the news?
I am immensely proud and grateful for the recognition my father’s work has received. Whether it was humility or just following the announcement embargo to the extreme, my dad gave us no warning about the Gairdner! He sent a group email to me, my brothers and our wives less than two hours before the ceremony with an image of the Globe and Mail front page and the link to register. Anyone who got their newspaper before 7 AM on April 7th knew before us. The silver lining of our seven-year-old being home for Zoom school was that he could watch his Zaidie Dan receive his award.
What have you learned from/about your father over the years that may surprise others?
For people that know him this won’t really be a surprise, but his mentors, colleagues, and especially the people who work in his lab are like a second family. They get together several times a year with their families and ours. He is the biggest cheerleader of his trainees, in particular. One of his former trainees even asked him to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. I think this is one of the things he loves most about his work—the people who get brought in to his network, and especially seeing them find their own success.