John Roder (1950-2018)

Dr. John Roder (1950-2018), FRSC, Senior Scientist, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute

Dr. John Carlin Roder, FRSC, passed away on Saturday, January 6, 2018.  John was one of the Institute’s first scientists, recruited by Lou Siminovitch in 1985 from Queen’s University. John spent over 30 years at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute as a Senior Scientist, before his retirement. For those who didn’t personally know John, he was an amazing scientist and truly caring person. Remarkably, in mid-career, he decided to switch his entire scientific focus from natural killer cells and immunology to the genetics of neuroscience. John went on to become a world leader in this field, developing new tests and mouse models of psychiatric disease including, as this Globe and Mail story describes, important advances in schizophrenia  (

John established the Lunenfeld’s neurobehavioural laboratory, which is now part of The Centre for Phenogenomics, and he was directly involved in the discovery of the R1 embryonic stem cell line that has been used by countless researchers to generate mouse models of human disease. His many contributions to science are far too numerous to list and John also mentored many of Canada’s most successful neuroscientists. John had Huntington’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that he refused to let define or limit him. He actively participated in awareness efforts for the disease and often gave interviews (see links below).  He was featured in a documentary, “Do You Really Want to Know” about the impact of genetic diagnosis on individuals with Huntingtons in their family. His mind remained as sharp as as a razor and many of us remember being sent a list of papers John thought we should know about.

Our deepest condolences to John’s wife, Mary-Lou, and to John’s family. Canada has lost a giant in neuroscience, they have lost a most wonderful man.


John Roder (centre) with fellows, Tatiana Lipina (right) and Steven Clapcote (left)

John Roder (centre) with fellows, Tatiana Lipina (right) and Steven Clapcote (left)


Links to John’s efforts to educate and rise awareness of Huntington’s disease: huntingtons_disease_does_keep_mount_sinai_scientist_from_brilliant_work.html


Link to Obituary in the Toronto Star:

Link to Guest Book:

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