Richard Gillis


I first knew Daya as a student at McGill during the 1960s.  He was a role model for me then and will remain so forever. 


As a graduate student in Pharmacology, I would sometimes perform experiments that would require me to be in the laboratory overnight.  On one of these all night occasions, Daya showed up at about 4AM.  Surprised to see him I asked why he was there?  He said that an idea for an experiment had awakened him and that he was eager to test his idea.  After attending my classes, I checked back to see how his idea had turned out.  I was again surprised!  Daya had forgotten his initial idea and was testing a new thought that had occurred to him while he was performing the experiment that had brought him to the laboratory in the first place.  As I witnessed this, I knew that seeking answers to scientific questions would be my life career.


In mid-career I turned to Daya for help with my science.  I wished to study the role of the nervous system as a cause of cardiac arrhythmias but had not been able to think of an effective approach for addressing this research problem.  Daya suggested that I block GABA in specific areas of the brain while monitoring autonomic nervous system activity and the ECG.  Applying Daya’s approach resulted in several Ph.D theses, grant funding from NIH, and immersion in a whole new research area – brain control of GI function.


In one of my last conversations with Daya he mentioned that he was taking metformin for his diabetes, and noticed how effective it was for causing weight loss.  He asked me if I knew how metformin produces an anti-obesity effect?  Seeking the answer to Daya’s question has become one of our current research projects.


I have always known Daya as a friend, the best friend I have ever had.  A medicine my beloved wife required had been taken off the market in the US.  We would go to Canada each year to stock up on the drug.  Next, the drug was to be withdrawn in Canada.  I phoned Daya and told him I was coming to Montreal to purchase whatever drug I could find remaining in the drug stores.  He told me not to do this.  Daya contacted friends in several cities in Canada who purchased the drug, which Daya sent on to us.  Through Daya’s great kindness, compassion, and friendship, Carol and I had a life-time supply of the only drug that could help her medical problem.


I am so thankful and grateful to Daya! He is – and always will be my role model and teacher.

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