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Beamish, Robert E.
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Dates of existence
Robert Earl Beamish was born on September 16, 1916 in Shoal Lake, Manitoba to William Henry and Mary May (McLeod) Beamish. He was educated at Shoal Lake Public School and McConnell High School. He entered Brandon College in 1934. He graduated as an honours student and class valedictorian with a B.A. in 1937. He received a Dominion-Provincial Scholarship to study medicine at the University of Manitoba. In 1942, he graduated with an M.D. and two years later a B.Sc. (Med). In 1942 he joined the teaching staff of the University of Manitoba. In 1943, he married Mary Kathleen Weekes. They had three daughters: Catherine born in 1949, Judith in 1953 and Mary Anne in 1955. Beamish served in Canada with the Royal Canadian Military Corps from 1944-1946 and retired with the rank of Captain. During his military service, Beamish began a prolific research career. He co-authored four articles, one of which was a study of tuberculosis in the Canadian Army. From 1947-1948 Beamish was awarded a Nuffield Dominion Travelling Fellowship to study in Great Britian. He studied at the Royal Hammersmith Hospital in London and later became the registrar at the National Heart Hospital. While in England, he obtained membership in the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, specializing in cardiology. He was later advanced to Fellowship in both organizations. Upon returning to Canada, Beamish endeavoured to have the study and treatment of heart disease established as a legitimate medical specialty in Canada. He established the department of cardiology at the Manitoba Clinic, which was expanded to include six doctors. He pioneered the idea that the lowering of serum cholesterol would greatly reduce the risk of heart attack. He was also an early proponent of the use of anticoagulants to prevent clotting and the blocking of arteries. In 1970 he joined the Great West Life Assurance Co. as Vice-President of Medical Underwriting, while still retaining teaching and research interests at the University of Manitoba. Beamish was the Founding Director of the Manitoba Heart Foundation and the founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. He was awarded honourary degrees from Brandon University in 1988 and the University of Manitoba in 1989. He received the Order of Canada in 1990 and the Order of Manitoba in 2000. Dr. Beamish died in Winnipeg on February 17, 2001.