In Memoriam ‑ Dr. Arnold Mitnitski


A message from Dr. Kenneth Rockwood:


I am sorry to have to tell you that Arnold Mitnitski died on May 26th after a brief illness. He leaves to mourn his wife Larissa, daughter Julia and family. A brilliant, kind, and humble man, with a deep appreciation of music – not for nothing is Julia a classical pianist – Arnold was much beloved and admired by a wide range of friends and colleagues, in many disciplines, in many countries.  

An established mathematician and scientist in the former Soviet Union, Arnold moved to Halifax in 2000, after some years in Montreal. Arnold began as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine to work full-time on mathematical aspects of ageing. By then, we'd worked together for about six years. I was privileged to know Arnold, to work with him most of my career, and to be his friend. Arnold’s fundamental contributions to understanding frailty drew international attention, and in 2011 he was made University Research Professor of Medicine. Arnold retired, more or less, two years ago. He was honoured to have been acknowledged as Professor Emeritus of Medicine. He had a special love for Dalhousie, and especially the opportunities afforded him by the Department of Medicine, in hiring him (a mathematician!) for which I will forever be grateful.

Arnold and I learned together about interdisciplinary work. We went from good will but mutual incomprehension to being able to finish each other's sentences. That took about ten years. And then we discovered a useful discipline of our own, that served us well since: the things we sorted out that turned out to be reasonably true, were only true when we knew them so well that each could express it in terms not objectionable to the other. That's something worth knowing that I'm glad to share. I'm going to call it the "Mitnitski Doctrine". 

The other thing worth sharing is the idea to not wait till someone is dying to tell them what a privilege it is to know and work with them. 

Kenneth Rockwood, MD, FRCPC, FRCP
Professor of Medicine (Geriatric Medicine & Neurology)
Kathryn Allen Weldon Professor of Alzheimer Research
Dalhousie University Halifax, NS Canada