Honouring the Melville Legacy


Announcing the Melville Undergraduate Research Bursary in Pharmacology

by Dr. Bastien Castagner 

Kenneth Melville, BSc’26, MDCM’26, MSc’31, (1902–1975) was an extraordinary man. Born in Jamaica, he was McGill’s first Black medical student and graduated at the top of his class in 1926. In 1953, he became the first—and only—Black Chair of McGill’s Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics—and the first person from a developing country to hold a Chair at McGill. Melville was internationally respected, with a prolific scientific career. He served as a mentor for students from developing regions and was a leader in Montreal’s West Indian community. In the spirit of Dr. Melville’s legacy, the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics wishes to establish an Undergraduate Research Bursary in his honour.

Objective: Increase diversity in the pharmacology program by offering funding for a summer research experience and mentorship to an undergraduate student from an underrepresented equity group.

Bursary: Stipend for a summer research internship in a Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics laboratory. The bursary covers 80%; the host laboratory contributes 20%. A formal mentorship program for the student will be provided by the supervising professor and the Faculty of Medicine’s Social Accountability and Community Engagement Office.

Why is this important? Summer internships will provide a distinct advantage and valuable pharmacology research experiences to undergraduate students, increasing their competitiveness when applying to graduate school or for career advancement.

Fund raising goal: at least $100,000 to endow the bursary.

Contact: Dr. Bastien Castagner, Assistant Professor, bastien.castagner@mcgill.ca.

Melville in the 1930s (Photo courtesy of AlexSandra Wright)

The Melvilles in 1946 (Photo courtesy of AlexSandra Wright)

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2 Responses to “Honouring the Melville Legacy
  1. Gerald Burke,MD,CM says:

    I remember Dr. Melville as a strong but gentle man, soft spoken, always lecturing in a well-organized manner, and an excellent communicator.

    This tribute is well deserved.

  2. Dr Herbert Blumer says:

    He lived near me when I was growing up. He taught us Pharmacology in second year Medicine at McGill. He was a friend of my father-in-law (Dr S. Dworkin) who also taught at McGill. My wife, Marilyn, may still have photos of him in her parents albums