Dr. John Dirks received his MD from the University of Manitoba (1957) and a Fellowship in Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians (1963). He trained in nephrology research at the NIH (1963-1965), and held an MRC Canada grant (1965-1987) for his work in renal pathophysiology.
He has held a number of major academic administrative positions including Director of Nephrology at McGill (1965-1976); Head, Department of Medicine at UBC (1976-1987); Dean of Medicine University of Toronto (1987-1991); and Dean-Rector of Aga Khan University in Pakistan (1994-1996). From 1994 to 2005, Dr. Dirks chaired the International Society of Nephrology’s Commission for the Global Advancement of Nephrology (COMGAN), a major educational-clinical outreach program in over 100 countries. Dr. Dirks held the role of President and Scientific Director of Gairdner from 1993 and retired on May 4, 2016 becoming President & Scientific Director Emeritus. He also served on the Medical Advisory Board of Gairdner for a decade (1983-1993). Honours include the NFK International Medal from the US National Kidney Foundation (2005), the International Society of Nephrology’s Roscoe Robinson Award (2004), the Order of Canada (2006), an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Manitoba, and a Biomedical Science Ambassador Award from Partners in Research and the Banting Research Foundation (2009). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science. In 2010, he received a TBI Lifetime Achievement Award from the Biotechnology Initiative. In 2012 he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and also received an Honourary Doctorate of Science from the University of Toronto and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.