Western 
Pain Medicine Program - History of the Earl Russell Chair

Dr. Earl Russell: Philanthropist, Respected Physician and Mentor

In 1999, a generous gift from Dr. Earl Russell to Western University established the Earl Russell Chair in Pain Management at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Dr Russell spoke of his vision in these words: "My hope is that this Chair will build expertise, improve patient treatment and eventually lead more physicians and scientists to pursue clinical and research work in the area." Until his death, Dr. Russell and his family continued to provide financial support for the Chair. In recognition of his outstanding contributions as a physician, teacher, mentor, and philanthropist, Dr. Russell received an Honorary Degree from Western University during spring convocation in 2006.

The broad mandate of the Earl Russell Chair is to improve clinical care, to educate and to acquire new knowledge in the areas of chronic pain, cancer pain and acute pain. Better integration of the fields of acute and chronic pain will encourage the development of new paradigms for prevention and treatment of persistent pain at all stages in life. Dr. Dwight Moulin has held the position from 2005 to the present. Dr. Pat Morley-Forster was the inaugural chair from 2002-2005, at which time she assumed the position of Medical Director of the Outpatient Pain Clinic at St Joseph's Hospital.

Western Professor emeritus, alumnus and philanthropist, Dr. Russell was a respected physician and member of the class of Meds '50, who dedicated much of his life to alleviating human suffering. His interest in pain management began as a young doctor during the Korean War.  He worked in the post-operative ward of the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital - the same unit which surgeon Richard Hooker took his inspiration to write the novel, MASH. The pain suffered by young recruits who lay wounded in the snow and developed frostbitten hands disturbed him. He taught himself to perform stellate ganglion blocks from a textbook and applied this technique to the great benefit to the wounded soldiers. Many of his early anesthesia skills, vital to the survival of severely traumatized patients in a military MASH unit, were also self-taught.

Dr. Russell was a faculty member at Western University from 1968 to 1981 in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. He was Chief of Anesthesia at Four Counties General Hospital in Newbury and staff member at Kingston General Hospital, St. Joseph's Health Care, St. Mary's Hospital, and London Health Sciences Centre. His interest in pain management began as a young doctor during the Korean War.  He worked in the post-operative ward of the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital - the same unit from which surgeon Richard Hooker took his inspiration to write the novel, MASH. The pain suffered by young recruits who lay wounded in the snow and developed frostbitten hands disturbed him. He taught himself to perform stellate ganglion blocks from a textbook and applied this technique to the great benefit of the wounded soldiers. Many of his early anesthesia skills, vital to the survival of severely traumatized patients in a military MASH unit, were also self-taught.

Until his retirement in 2007, Dr. Russell treated patients for three days a week for 70-80 patients who attended his pain clinics in Ingersoll and Newbury. In recognition for his unique and lasting contribution to the management of chronic pain in Canada, he was awarded the Distinguished Career Award in Pain Management by the Canadian Pain Society.

Dr. Earl Russell passed away in 2008 at the age of 88. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marjorie (Midge), four daughters, nine grandchildren, two step grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Eldon Loh
  • Eldon Loh MD