Celebrating the Career of Dr. Norman Marcon

Jul 2, 2020
Dr. Laura Targownik

Dr. Norman MarconDr. Norman Marcon For as long as I have been a gastroenterologist, St Michael’s Hosptial (and before that, The Wellesley) was synonymous with therapeutic endoscopy And the reason why St. Michael’s is globally recognized as the centre of excellence for therapeutic endoscopy is ultimately thanks to the vision and determination of Dr. Norman Marcon (Order of Canada). 

There is likely not a single therapeutic endoscopist across this country who was not either personally trained by Dr. Marcon, or by one of his protégés. Similarly, graduates of the advanced clinical fellowship at St. Michael’s Hospital (the first of its kind in the world) can be found leading their own therapeutic endoscopy programs around the globe.  And it would not be hyperbole to believe there are thousands of persons who were able to dodge the surgeon’s scalpel thanks to Dr. Marcon, whether by his hands directly, or by the virtue of therapeutic endoscopists around the world who have adopted his innovations. 

And so it is with some sadness to have recently learned that Dr. Marcon has decided to hang up the endoscope one last time and retire from academic and clinical practice. Fortunately, thanks to Dr. Marcon’s foresight and commitment to education, St. Michael’s will remain the worldwide leader in endoscopic innovation and education for years to come.

Dr. Gabe Kandel, a long-time colleague of Dr. Marcon, shares the following on behalf of his colleagues in the St. Michael’s Division of Gastroenterology:

Norman Marcon, retires July 1, after half a century of championing interventional gastroenterology. He is the undisputed father of endoscopy in Canada, Officer of the Order of Canada, Professor of Medicine, recipient of at least one achievement award from virtually every GI organization.  As a researcher, he focused on harnessed technology to endoscopy, culminating in 157 articles and book chapters together with countless lectures and demonstrations. In recognition, the needle used to inject mucosa has been labelled as the Marcon-Haber injector, the tube to decompress dilated colons the Marcon catheter. He was the chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at the Wellesley Hospital for an unprecedented 28 years, and uninterrupted head since 1982 of the Annual International Course on Therapeutic Endoscopy. The secret to its success was Norm’s unique recognition of the educational value of live endoscopic demonstrations. About 100 fellows from across the globe have trained in endoscopy with him, 23 now professors, in a post-graduate endoscopy program that he developed independently.  In practice he was recognized across Canada as the go-to gastroenterologist to resolve challenging clinical problems, known to invariably help with patients when asked, no matter how scare his resources or sick the patient. He was relentless in moving endoscopy forward from an apparently undignified, frowned-upon, laughed-at activity unbecoming of scholarly internists, to a respectable field in its own right, arguably the means by which Gastroenterologists now contribute the most to medical care. All this he pioneered himself, stimulating, pushing and cajoling skeptic funders, administrators and colleagues to solve problems in clinical gastroenterology with endoscopic techniques. At the same time he fostered within his Division an unmistakable culture of collegiality and passion for endoscopy, consistently prioritizing the sickest patients requiring creative thinking for care rather than clinical guide-line adherence. The sadness in our Division from his departure is palpable:  We miss him already.

On behalf of the University of Toronto Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, let me share our great appreciation for Dr. Marcon’s contribution to science, and to humanity.