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A Researcher’s Rare Legacy

Family creates fellowship in honour of PhD student Eric Hani

A young scientist’s exceptional achievements and his family’s generosity are reflected in a new Faculty of Medicine fellowship.

Eric Hani, a talented microbiologist who died in 2002 at age 36, helped create a valuable diagnostic tool while completing his PhD at U of T. Together with his friend and mentor, Dr. V.L. (Ricky) Chan, Hani (BA 1988 UC, MSc 1991, PhD 1997) cloned a gene central to the rapid detection of a major bacterial causative agent associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome, reactive arthritis and other conditions.

Chan described Hani, whose work has been published in several major international microbiology journals, as “among that rare, top five per cent of PhD and post-doctoral students” whose productivity and knowledge are now showing widespread benefit.

The first Eric Hani Fellowship will be awarded in 2005 to a graduate student undertaking research in microbiology. Hani’s parents, Rita and Kurt, and his sister, Cora Donely, designated Hani’s estate to his university, and the provincial government matched the contribution through the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund, creating a $240,000 endowment.

Donely says Hani “kept in very close touch with the University of Toronto, a place [that was] very special to him. He received all his degrees there and was awarded several scholarships. Our family wished to reciprocate on his behalf, and a scholarship to remember him seemed just the right way.”

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