Hung Shu Wang, PhD, FCCMG, Cytogeneticist
October 5, 1929 - December 4, 2016
Hung Shu played an important role in the evolution of cytogenetic services, seeing it smoothly through the technological advancements of the1980’s and ‘90’s. She was a wonderful colleague, did not hesitate to present her professional views, but in many ways was a private person. I am grateful to her daughter Chiayeng Wang for providing me details of her early life, and to other department members, current and retired, for further insights.
Hung Shu was born in Shandong China and lived there during her early school years until the family fled to Taiwan. Hung Shu attended high schools in Taipei, before going on to major in Botany at National Chung Hsing University in Taichung City. She then worked in Taiwan for two years before moving to the United States where she obtained her PhD in Genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She then returned for four years to the National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. At that point (not sure how) she found her way to the Department of Health in Manitoba as a Research Scientist at the Manitoba School for The Mentally Retarded, where she worked for six years, focusing on Down syndrome research. She then joined the Department of Genetics at the University of Manitoba as an Assistant Professor, where she remained for four years. It was during my time there as Clinical Geneticist that I came to know Hung Shu.
I moved from Winnipeg to Ottawa in June, 1979 and we were very fortunate to be able to recruit Hung Shu to CHEO as our Cytogeneticist, in early 1985, after David Cox had decided to return to the UK. In those days CHEO Genetics was a small group of clinical and cytogenetic staff. Molecular genetics was added in 1986 and the whole group worked closely together in providing and expanding services to Eastern Ontario. A review of publications from those days shows the collaboration of our group across the discipline. During her tenure Hung Shu became an Associate Professor in Paediatrics at the University of Ottawa. Hung Shu retired from CHEO in 2000 and moved to Toronto where for the next four years she worked part time as a Cytogenetic consultant for the Cytogenetics Lab at the Sudbury Regional Hospital and for the Cancer Cytogenetic lab at the University Health Network in Toronto. Dr Wendy Meschino reminded me that she also provided some help at NYGH. Full retirement began in 2004 and she remained to enjoy many years in Toronto.
As mentioned, Hung Shu was very much a private person but it was not hard to uncover warm reminiscences from her colleagues. Diane Thompson, CHEO's first Genetic counsellor, lived fairly close to Hung Shu in Ottawa. She recalls a memorable Chinese dinner hosted by Hung Shu who, apparently in a Chinese tradition, served course after course, but never sat down. Hung Shu could be very decisive. Invited to look at a condo that Diane had seen, she bought it without further exploration and lived there happily for a number of years with her father. Cathy Brierley, who was a CHEO cytogenetic technologist at the time Hung Shu came to CHEO, (and is still there) recalls the fabulous Chinese food that Hung Shu and Hanna (another cytogenetic staff member) made and shared with the lab on festive occasions. It was never too late for Hung Shu to take on new directions and after beginning a Tai Chi course with Diane in Toronto, she apparently went on to teach a small class herself. Hung Shu's kindness was reflected in many quiet ways, such as hosting Diane and her husband Joe in Toronto when Joe had to be there for major surgery.
Hung Shu died peacefully on December 4, at St Michael's Hospital, surrounded by her family, after suffering a major intracerebral haemorrhage. It was a privilege to have known and worked with her - colleagues like Hung Shu are special.
She is survived by her older sister Hung Lan Wang, her daughter Chiayeng Wang and son-in-law Reed Graves, and nieces Lucy and Jonan Wu.