On Monday evening, March 1, 2021, just shy of 200 people got together on a Zoom call to celebrate the many accomplishments and lives affected, professionally and personally, by Dr. Sandra Black. Dr. Black, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award in December 2020 from the Society for Behavioural and Cognitive Neurology (SBCN), appeared genuinely surprised and delighted by the dozens of colleagues, staff, trainees, patients, friends and family in attendance for the event, which stretched for close to three hours.
The evening started with a photo collage that depicted Dr. Black’s lab, colleagues and trainees over the years. Dr. Black started noticing people on the Zoom, reconnecting and reminiscing. The agenda was officially kicked off through a heartfelt introduction by Dr. Rick Swartz. Following this, Dr. Black presented a version of her talk from the SBCN event, entitled “Protein Misfolding Meets Small Vessel Disease”. This exploration of the history and the highlights from the Sunnybrook Dementia Research Study, running since 1995, also allowed for a focus on Sunnybrook Hospital’s growth and expansion over the years!
Following the talk, a slide presentation was played; this was compiled from dozens of submissions sent to ONDRI ahead of time, from past and current trainees and colleagues, many of whom have moved on to important national and international positions. Each clip featured someone whose career and life were impacted by Dr. Black, whether in the recent past, or starting up to 35 years ago! There were many stories told, but some primary themes emerged: Dr. Black’s incredible compassion; spirit of mentorship; collaborative nature; scientific brilliance; prodigiousness; and her vast contributions to the field of cognitive behavioural neurology. The emotions and passion expressed by the many attendees, whose lives were significantly affected by Dr. Black, were palpable. A tear or two was also shed by Dr. Black, who seemed to be deeply touched.
Among other things, this event was a poignant, important moment, in a year that has been difficult in so many ways. While getting together in person can never really be replicated, this Zoom celebration event allowed people to come together from all around the globe, to provide thanks and contribute to the celebration. Dr. Black’s siblings and other members of her immediate family seemed to provide the icing on the cake for Dr. Black.
Congratulations to Dr. Black on her vast and significant achievements over a long career! We at ONDRI, along with everyone else with whom Dr. Black is involved – including the many well-wishers who could not attend the event, but expressed the same sentiments – would like to thank Dr. Black for the unique ways in which she has contributed to and touched many lives in Canada and around the world. We all look forward to much continued success and collaboration in the future!