With great sadness we announce that Joseph Milic-Emili (“Milic” to his friends and colleagues) passed away on January 8, 2022. Milic served as Director of the Meakins-Christie Labs from 1979 to 1994. During that period he trained countless students and fellows from all over the world, many of whom went on to become international leaders in their own right. Milic maintained close relationships with his former trainees, exerting a profound impact on their attitudes not only towards science, but to life in general. These loyal friendships endured throughout his life, and are reflected by the outpouring of grief, affection, and anecdotes about Milic (particularly his humor) that we have received.
Joseph Milic-Emili was born in 1931 in the village of Sezana, then part of Italy, but now in Slovenia. After obtaining his medical degree from the University of Milan in 1955, he was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology in that institution, where he carried out research on exercise physiology with Professor Rodolfo Margaria. He was enticed to move to the University of Liège in 1958 by the Belgian physiologist Jean-Marie Petit, with whom he developed methods to measure pleural pressure with the esophageal balloon catheter as well as the electrical activity of the diaphragm using esophageal electrodes, techniques still applied in patients to this day. In 1960 Milic moved to Boston to work at the Harvard School of Public Health. Then in 1963, at the invitation of Professor David Bates, Milic moved to McGill University, where he spent the remainder of his career. Milic was Chairman of the Department of Physiology at McGill between 1973 and 1978, prior to becoming Director of the Meakins-Christie Labs in 1979. He was appointed Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Physiology and Medicine at McGill in 1998. Throughout his career he received many honors and distinctions. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1980 and inducted into the Order of Canada in 1990. He was granted the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by the Université Catholique de Louvain (1987), the University of Kunming (1988), Université de Montpellier (1994), the University of Athens (1999), and the University of Ljubljana (1999).
In addition to his tremendous scientific achievements in respiratory physiology, Milic had many qualities: teacher, mentor, friend and confidante; fierce competitor and taskmaster; cheerleader and career promoter; critic and antagonistic prosecutor (getting past the first slide was murder!); historian and philosopher; master of ceremonies and stand-up comedian. He was an enormously talented and complex man. Throughout it all, he always had that little twinkle in his eyes and he embraced life. He was one of a kind, and there will never be another like him.
Please send us your tributes to Milic and we will post them on the Meakins-Christie website. For those who are interested in Milic’s own account of his career, we refer you to “A life of passion and serendipity” J Anesth 16:238-41 (2002) in which he concludes with the following:
“I found that, at this time in my life, the names and memories of my coauthors have become more important to me than the scientific content of my papers”.Joseph Milic-Emili
Basil Petrof, MD
Director, Meakins-Christie Laboratories, Department of Medicine, McGill University and Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
David Eidelman, MDCM
Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill University
In memoriam: Professor Joseph Milic-Emili. ERS. January 2022.
The physiological foundations of critical care medicine: the contribution of Joseph Milic‑Emili, a physiologist “by hook or by crook”. V. Marco Ranieri and Claude Guérin. Crit Care 26, 38 (2022).
Joseph Milic‑Emili and his contribution to respiratory physiology. Guiseppe Andrea Miserochhi. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2022 Apr 6.
Editorial. Farewell to Joseph Milic-Emili. Nikolaos Siafakas and Nikolaos Koulouris. Pneumon 2022, 35(1):6.
The following tributes were sent to the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. They are listed alphabetically.
He was a great mentor, role model and most importantly a profoundly dear friend. I have enjoyed his challenging scientific views and one of the very few I have met whom I loved arguing with on life. I also had the pleasure of sharing with him the love of food, art and good company both in Canada and Europe. I feel privileged that after many debates that he still turned and said to me “You are a good kid!” Who knows we may meet again in a different existence to carry on our debates…. or not depending on if Milic believes in an afterlife (subject to our debates).Rehab AlJamal-Naylor
As it has been well said, Milic was one of a kind. Milic was, among many other good attributes, a great teacher, a great critic, a great friend. I doubt that there is anyone who knew Milic who does not have an anecdote about him, and surely there are many funny anecdotes. My first encounter with Milic was when I had just finished my medical career, and I arrived to the Department of Physiology at McGill, where he was Chairman, to conduct the studies for a Master’s degree under his supervision. When I entered his office, he looked at me and said: “I was expecting a midget with a big head.” I was very surprised by his welcome, and I asked why he said so. He answered with a smile: “Because I read your academic record and I noticed that you had good evaluations in all subjects except in physical education.” That was the beginning of a training period in research that I will never forget. I learned many things from Milic, and one of his teachings that I extrapolated from research to many aspects of my life was: “When everything is going wrong, you should be optimistic, but when everything is going well, you should be pessimistic.” I believe that knowing Milic was a gift of the destiny, and I cannot find enough words to describe all the good thoughts about him. Milic is simply unforgettable.José Almirall
Milic was my mentor, teacher and friend. He was a monument in the field of respiratory physiology, an outstanding personality and creative scientist.Michel Aubier
He was a real character and a real physiologist — our interests often coincided or were at least adjacent. I always appreciated his imagination, rigor, and his humor. My first encounter with Milic was as a graduate student attending my first FASEB Respiration Dinner. Milic gave a history of the essential concepts of respiratory physiology “Taps and Valves” that had the entire room laughing. My encounters with Milic over the years were always challenging but warm and friendly.Bob Banzett
The august lineup of respiratory scientists across the world who have offered their thoughts and memories of Milic speaks to his legacy more than any specific anecdote or accolade and is certainly what he would value most himself. While his contributions to physiology were monumental, he made it clear that he placed the importance of helping fellows and colleagues advance their own careers as paramount. I remember him telling me once that he thought of the Meakins-Christie Labs first and foremost as a school, which meant that he considered the research activities going on within as a vehicle for imbuing its alumni with the knowledge and skills to venture forth and disseminate respiratory physiology to the World. He was able to have such an impact in this regard in part because of his enormous expertise and knowledge, but also because of his extraordinary charisma. This was never better on display that when he was in a joking mood (which was most of the time). I, like many others, remember finding his jokes hilarious. Sometimes, in fact, I would venture in social settings to try to benefit from this by telling a Milic joke myself. This worked when the joke was a good one, but I discovered that some of the jokes were not that good, in which case I would be appropriately chagrined. The trap I fell into was that Milic could make you laugh just by the way he told a joke, regardless of its intrinsic merit. There is no competing with that! Milic was also an international figure in the sense that he owned the world and was at home in numerous cultures and countries (he spoke 6 languages and declared that he had a foreign accent in every one of them!) I imagine this was due in part to his varied experiences growing up that included escaping alone from Slovenia to Italy when he was 14 years old, getting to hear first-hand of the experiences of soldiers in WW II (something that affected him deeply as I recall when I was listening to him talk about it once), and then moving around the world subsequently as a scientist. I owe Milic a great deal – he was the critical mentor I needed as a newly arrived postdoc from New Zealand in 1983 and subsequently as a member of the McGill faculty. Thinking of him still makes me laugh, but most of all reminds me how lucky I was to know him.Jason Bates
J’ai pris connaissance de ce lien aujourd’hui. À n’en pas douter, un grand physiologiste. Mes sincères condoléances à sa famille et ses amis.François Bellemare
I would like to provide a personal example to confirm that Milic’s legacy lives on. My students and I continue to use the esophageal catheter to measure pleural pressure. This is but one of his major contributions to respiratory physiology and medicine. I also remember Milic for his sense of humour. The first time I met him was at the Meakins-Christie in 1984. When Milic passed by, Phyllis, his loyal secretary, told me to follow the man with the bald head, which I did. When I arrived at his office, there was a poster on his door that read: “God made only so many perfect heads, the rest he covered in hair.”Doug Bradley
One of his most famous ‘papers’ was his editorial about weaning being an art or a science. And this illustrates what he was, not only a great scientist but someone taking distance to help us rethink our field and open our minds. His contribution has been enormous.Laurent Brochard
One of his famous sentences: Copy unless you can improve! I will always remember him.Edoardo Calderini
I was a fellow at the Meakins at a time when it was in its prime as a world centre of respiratory physiological science. I had much to learn and learnt much, mainly from Milic. I learnt how to look carefully at data and think about everything you see, even if it challenges your pre-conceived ideas. I learnt how to be parsimonious with resources (not always a good thing when applying for competitive grants!) I learnt that when you have your fellows round the boss cooks dinner – and I still do. I learnt that there is more to medicine and life than work and that when your teacher becomes your friend you have really made it. The memories of our friends are what matters but the good men do (and Milic did a lot of good) extends beyond and lives after them. We may want to rage at the dying of the light but what a wonderful light it was.Peter M A Calverley
I enjoyed a lecture on PEEPi by Dr J Milic-Emili managed by Dr Kuno and Dr Mishima at Kyoto University in 1987. After the lecture, Milic, Mishima, and I went sightseeing Kyoto by my car, and spoke about what I did such as an invented cuirass respirator or a study on chest wall motion. He said, laughing, ‘Although you are a surgeon, your car is not expensive.’ A few weeks later, he gave me a letter to come to Montreal with the respirator. This was the beginning of a wonderful, short but memorable life in Montreal from May 1898 to Dec. 1990 as a fellow of Prof Milic-Emili and Prof Peter T Macklem. He visited Japan to attend a memorial scientific meeting for his Japanese fellow, Dr Kochi held in a heartland Mt. Fuji organized by Dr Sato. He said “I almost forgot what I’ve done with Kochi, but I did remember we were happy, research was fun”. Next day was a cloudy day, but I said “Milic, let’s go up to see Mt Fuji by my car”. He replied “I like you, such a positive man. I visited Japan three times, but I have never seen Mt Fuji”. Milic, I wish to go to that lookout to see Mt. Fuji with you again.Koji Chihara
Dear Milic: As you can see you have made an impact, a large impact, not only scientific-your contributions have been essential to understand how the lung works-but also personal. Your name is and will be remembered by those who knew you and by those who did not but you have touched. As someone else already said about you “he was one of a kind and there will never be another like him”. This Dear Milic is what Milan Kundera defines as “grande immortalità”. You got it. Hoping it does not get to your head! See you.Manuel G. Cosio
What can be added to all the testimonials about Milic? All these messages show that you are indeed a monument, a role model and above all a human being always ready to help. You will remain the reference to guide several generations to come.Marie-Louise Coussa-Koniski
Dearest among the boys of via Mangiagalli 32, to you these boys pay the due tribute of gratitude together with the profound gratitude for having magnificently represented the school of Margaria throughout the world for the excellence of your scientific activity, the unparalleled communication skills, the ‘inexhaustible desire for knowledge, generosity of spirit, a school to which you have always and everywhere wanted to remember your original, formative belonging. As for me, for what remains to me, I will keep the satisfying memory of our bitter “scientific” quarrels, which between screams and insults made worried colleagues rush from the other rooms of the Institute, and first of all a stunned Emilio Agostoni, and who resolved the following day in the inevitable, forgetful and affectionate embrace. With heartfelt nostalgia, I would very much like to be able to tell you as always…. take care Milic.Edgardo D’Angelo
Milic has been one of the true giants in respiratory physiology. His contributions are enormous: regional ventilation, lung and chest wall mechanics, mechanics of respiratory failure, intrinsic PEEP etc. He was a warm-hearted personality, full of humor and jokes, with a fantastic mind. In addition, he has enthused and stimulated many young scientists either directly or indirectly. He was capable to explain complicated phenomena in a way of which the simplicity was just not offending. Indeed, his legacy is not just in papers, but in the minds of so many young scientists and clinicians who he trained and educated in his rigorous logic which was so characteristic of him.Marc Decramer
I was a Fellow at the Meakins-Christie Labs from 1969 to 1975, and in fact, I pushed the old 8 channel recorders over from 3rd floor at RVH to the new lab. Of course, Milic was in his prime. A wonderful influence on us all.James Dosman
Milic was the pillar of my scientific education. I went to work with him, expecting to learn more about regional ventilation and closing volume- and “pouf” (as he would say) we were talking control of breathing and Vt/Ti ! His ability to conceive and develop fundamental ideas, and then explain them to others with clarity and simplicity, was outstanding.Gordon Drummond
I had: « If you cannot beat him, just copy him ! » And also: « If it’s not broken, don’t fix it». I remember the pleasure he had in living science. Very inspiring.Alexandre Duguet
I was at that symposium when Milic regaled the audience. It was his story about the parrot and the professor. I’ll always remember it. I also remember the beer seminars, when Milic would peer down the barrel of his beer bottle as he asked his penetrating questions. In my case his penetrating questions began before I could even project my first slide.Jeff Fredberg
I stayed and trained as a research/clinical fellow at the Meakins-Christie Labs of McGill University from 1974-1976 when I met Milic at “Beer Seminars” of the MCL as a regular critical commentator to presentations by research fellows on various ongoing research works in the MCL. After returning to Tokyo, I had chances to accompany him on three occasions when he was invited for special lecturers to Japan during 1985-2000. Milic kept saying “I don’t believe Mount Fuji exists in Japan at all” in a sense of Milic humour, reflecting his misfortune for not being able to command a view of Mt. Fuji through his three visits to this country. In his Christmas letter he once wrote me “Yoshi, Don’t you think we both lived in good days of pulmonary physiology after all?”Yes Milic, you are right with your pioneering works including esophageal balloon for measuring pleural pressure, vertical gradient in pleural pressure, closing volume, P0.1 for central neural output, and many other revolutionary research tools yet in use today. I always adored you as not only a giant in respiratory research but also a giant in paramount fields of western liberal arts. You have encouraged, helped and nurtured Japanese respirologists who studied at the MCL in Montreal. They all appreciate your mentorship and will continue to convey your spirit to future generations in this country.Yoshinosuke Fukuchi
Certainly, Milic was one of our best masters and a friend. However, “the old scientists and masters never die, they just fade”.Joaquim Gea
I did not work with him directly but saw him plenty when I was working with Jere Mead at Harvard in the early 70s, and was swallowing his balloons on a regular basis. Indeed I last swallowed them about 5 years ago when investigating the physiology of the Heimlich Manoeuvre, giving me a 50 year experience…Milic came to a meeting of the SEPCR* in Palermo in the 80s and was pleased to be unexpectedly greeted at the airport by a smart driver who asked if he was attending the Congress. Milic said yes and was escorted to a superior limousine and whisked off to the highway and the interior of Sicily. After about half an hour it struck Milic that there might be some confusion and it transpired he was being taken to an entirely different type of Sicillian Congress. He had to persuade the driver to return him to the airport whence he joined the respiratory conference and regaled us with laughter at his story!Malcolm Green
I do agree with what he has been: for me a friend, a master, a pillar in my scientific life, a bright and open mind and a very generous person. For me there has been a before and an after my fellowship in Montreal (followed by years of collaboration).Claude Guérin
He was always supportive and encouraging. Most of all he made you feel like a friend. His door was always open for a question or a discussion, and never missed a chance for a joke. I admired him for that. I remember once at the beer seminar, one Australian fellow with a good Australian accent gave a talk and then Milic says, “can someone please translate?” I laugh every time I think of this joke. Whenever we had a prominent visitor at the Meakins, he made sure that the young guys had a chance to interact with the visitor. Our friend left lasting memories with everyone who knew him.Tawfic S. Hakim
Milic was made Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Montpellier – France. During the ceremony, while I was in the clumsy writing of my first articles which he had read the day before, he exclaimed: “Hayot stop writing poetry, write science!” Since that day, I always wonder when writing what is science and what is poetry.Maurice Hayot
Two papers by Joseph Milic-Emili were primary motivators for my early work in lung imaging and remain key to our work today. Through my associations with Joseph Rodarte as a graduate student, research fellow and early faculty member, I had the pleasure of meeting Milic on numerous occasions, primarily dinners during ATS annual meetings. Conversations at those dinners provided an education far surpassing all my graduate courses combined and remain impactful today. Milic’s death represents the loss of one more of the key individuals whose works form the base upon which our current understanding of pulmonary physiology rests. Based upon photographs collected by Bob Hyatt, I recruited the help of a Mayo Clinic illustrator to produce key figures in the quest to measure pleural pressure. You will find Milic along with Sol Permutt depicted in panel C of figure 1 (see Hoffman and Ritman, Annals of Biomedical Engineering 1987). The originals were sent to each of those depicted, and all sent back kind notes, accepting the depiction of their roles in this still ongoing debate regarding the true nature of pleural pressure. Much of the reason for assessing pleural pressure was based upon the desire to understand heterogeneity of lung function. Imaging has allowed us to move well beyond the assessment of regional pleural pressure differences, and Milic lead the way with his JAP article in 1966. Earl Wood concluded, “Only the lord knows the true values of pleural pressure.”Eric A. Hoffman
I am very sorry to read this message. Please accept my heartfelt condolences.Marc Humbert
I have announced the sad news earlier today at the core management group meeting of the Society.
Martin, James, and myself will be in touch with Thomas to explore how to proceed. The European Respiratory Society will definitely pay tribute to “Milic”.
I have met many people in my travels and Milic stands out is so many ways. He had a totally unique view on life and science that is so rarely seen anymore. To quote him, he was “an oldie but a goodie”. All our lives were enriched by knowing and working with him.Charles G. Irvin
With sadness I note that our dear friend Milic has passed away. He asked me to join him in Paris and work together. This invitation was a gift of value for all my life. Research was not the only value. Milic’s cultural influence was an equally important aspect of his richness.Björn Jonson
He was a wonderful, fun loving brilliant man. A long life and a great one.Sharon Johnston
He was unique in many ways – his wonderful accent, the gestures he made when speaking, his broad cultural experience. In addition to his love of and enthusiasm for research he was an exceptional teacher. His showmanship made respiratory physiology lectures at the McIntyre come alive. His use of a slinky toy to illustrate the pleural pressure gradient was brilliant. Whistles and other “teaching aids” maintained attention and aided learning the concepts of lung physiology. While I never worked directly with Milic, he was a presence for the entire time I was at the Meakins and always had a great story to tell.Suzanne Kelly
He was always a great leader and boss.Barbara Kidd
It’s a great loss. I can only echo many of the comments that have been made so far. Milic was a leader, a mentor and one fabulous humorist and story-teller.Malcolm King
I so much enjoyed the Physiology Course in 1977 during my research fellowship at McGill! It was one of my best years of my career! He visited me in Vienna several times thereafter. I have last visited and seenMilic at La Cité in Montreal during my visiting professorship at McGill in April 2019! Such a great personality!Meinhard Kneussl
Thanks for sharing the sad news, Tom and my condolences to the family and close friends. The ERS has different ways to honor “giants” in our field and Marc will communicate the best way with the group.Martin Kolb
May he rest in peace.
Milic was a charismatic leader and has inspired a large number of students and trainees. In fact, he attracted many students, collaborators, and fellows because of his charisma and his style of teaching and scholarship. He is characterized by a deep commitment and enthusiasm to research for many topics, especially respiratory physiology. The English word enthusiasm, which of course derives from the Greek indicates that “GOD is within” may signifies knowledge deeper than faith and has a meaning of truth.Nikolaos Koulouris
Martin did forward to me your e-mail about Milic. It was kind to write those words. I cannot but echo your words and share my great sadness to this lossFranco Laghi
I first met Milic-Emili when he was the director of the Meakins for help in setting up a lung function lab for horses when I was hired as a young faculty member at the Université de Montréal. He was very enthusiastic and graciously offered his help. This was the beginning of a long-time collaboration with colleagues from Meakins-Christie Labs. Had Milic-Emili not so kindly replied to my letter, I would have missed the friendship and support of the many researchers of the Meakins.Jean-Pierre Lavoie
Milic had been a mentor, a teacher and such a character. He was one of the very few giants in physiology and we are all deeply grateful to his teaching. It has been a privilege being his fellow and this has deeply transformed our education as scientist, our professional trajectory as well as our personal life. Working with Milic was also an incomparable fertilization with a creative, open mind and deeply respectful personality. Once in Italy in the late nineties, he told me in a very similar manner to what he said to Andrea Rossi how proud and happy he was to see so many of his fellows in the room of the meeting. We have had this privilege.Patrick Levy
For our community in respiratory medicine, he was a giant and a guide. The type of man who had enormous influence, not only for the life of people he knew well, but also for people he could not have imagined being so important. That’s the end of an era.François Maltais
I was a fellow but never had the chance to meet him, having arrived too recently at Meakins. And yet, in all humility, I also feel part of his many students, so much of his work has inspired me and still inspires me as a respiratory physiologist. I have also heard so much about him throughout the different seminars at the Meakins, from his colleagues and students older than me, that although I did not have the chance to receive his teaching directly, I also feel like an orphan of a great master.Stefan Matecki
Milic was one of the “Greats”. To use an old-fashioned phrase, he had “CLASS”. Both in his research, extending from his studies of transpulmonary pressure with Petit in Belgium to his more recent work in the Meakins-Christie, his studies had a remarkable elegance. I count myself a Milic fan and feel privileged to have known him.Maurice McGregor
Although I did not directly worked under his supervision during my short time at the Meakins, the young fellow that I was could not fail to be intimidated by his impressive gaze… which fortunately softened after I delivered my due talk at the traditional beer seminar! A giant of science and a demanding teacher Milic will always prompt a tender smile to our face as we remember his staccato and contagious laugh and the countless and hilarious stories that all contributed to grant him a stupendous weapon of mass seduction.Paul Mengeot
I joined McGill in 1973, when Milic was appointed as Chairman of the Department of Physiology; at the time I had a fellowship from the University of Milano. Subsequently, I was offered the position of Associate Professor in Physiology at McGill. I retain vivid memories of these years and of the time spent in room 1020 at McIntyre Building, up Peel Street. I shared with him, I should say, the eagerness to develop the equipment and the experimental procedures suitable to measure the key variable in the context of a physiological problem. At the time I was developing a new approach to model microfluidics at the level of the air-blood barrier and its dependence on lung mechanics. Milic always encouraged and provided useful insight; he was indeed an inspiring mentor. I also remember having shared memorable moments with the many fellows attending the department. I returned several times to visit McGill. We became close friends, I hosted him in Italy on many occasions and spent a good time to share meditations and judgments on life, as well as Verdi’s opera.Giuseppe Miserocchi
Sorry to learn about the sad news of Prof Milic. He was a great soul. May his soul RIP.Venky Narayanan
I have got in my mind “pictures” like grabbing with him the Slovenian sausages in a store before traveling to his cottage in the lake, long discussion on the Roman empire, reading together the Corriere della Sera that I was receiving 7 days later from Italy, hearing his reproaches because I did not know who was the famous physiologist Mosso. But……..overall I fully understood who is still Milic, not only from your nice and touching words, but mainly from the sincere sadness of my young fellows that never met him in person. Milic is still alive and his memory will be carried on by the new generations, as all the great men in the history in Medicine.Stefano Nava
He was a “one-off”. He was an outstanding and enthusiastic speaker, no matter the audience. When he was chairman of Physiology, and I was a fellow, he roped me into giving some lectures. For inspiration I went to some of his lectures at the Medical School Class. What fun! I remember at one point he pulled out a gun and shot it. It as a fake of course but made a loud noise and immediately got, and kept, the students attention. One could probably not do that today for fear of inducing PTSD! I remember him explaining the pleural pressure gradient and the resultant gravity dependent variation in lung expansion using a Slinky! What a showman! What an inspiration!Peter Pare
A friend has departed. I heard about Milic so late. I wished that he departed still much, much later. Apart from being first of all a friend, he was a teacher but not an ordinary one, he was a mountain.Dragan Pavlovic
I met Milic at his Professor Emeritus stage. I sadly realize how much of him I missed, yet I was still blessed to enjoy his friendship and humor during my years at the Meakins-Christie labs. His attitude towards life, hard work, and contingencies is a source of inspiration forever. Yes, he had that sparkling look, always seeking humor out of anything, and his peals of laughter are alive in my mind. He used to promptly pick up the current issue of the Spanish Archivos de Bronconeumología from his mailbox with a proud gesture to let me know: – “Look, I am subscribed to your journal too; it matters to me.” When I was a couple of days ahead of my Ph.D. thesis defense, surely showing some unavoidable grief, he gave me a penetrating look and concluded: – “You have facies examinandi.” And his blast of laughter followed instantly. I felt that twist gave me the mood boost I needed to aim at the Dean’s Honor List.David Ramos Barbón
Milic’s enthusiasm, warmth and love of science has been inspirational to us all.Jeremy Road
Thank you for this bad news of the passed away of Milic. He was a great man who taught us tones of things. We will miss him terribly.Robert Rodriguez Roisin
A few years ago, during one of our last conversations, Milic told me: “dear Andrea, our papers will go out of any memory, and our work will be forgotten soon; what we do not and will not forget are the names. Any name is a friend, a portion of our life, a fantastic memory of wonderful feelings …”. Needless to say that Milic gave an outstanding contribution to the development of science and, more specifically, to the improvement of our individual intellectual and sentimental maturity. Having been Milic’s research fellow has been a privilege. We all share that and we feel a true community.Andrea Rossi
Ciao Milic. As you can see, we cannot let you go. We still need you. Each of us in his own way, and you know the way. You paved the path for us, but there is still much work to be done in order to “try to be a little kinder”, as you were. It is going to be tough, very tough, but during all these years you taught us that “nothing is impossible”. As we all know, your door will be always open for us, wherever you escaped.Marina Saetta
We suddenly lost a reference of scientist and human being.Paulo Saldiva
Milic was director when I joined the Meakins in 1992, and an inspiring mentor and critic throughout my graduate studies (the first slide, yes…). His passion for pulmonary physiology was highly contagious. Without doubt, Milic will be one of the first people I think of when I hear the phrase “standing on the shoulders of giants”. It is an honour to have known this brilliant man.Thomas F. Schuessler
Thank you so much for sending me Milic’s obituary. I have read it several times. Milic’s passing has brought my mind to live again and appreciate every interaction I had had with him and with every body at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories.Felix Shardonofsky
We lost our teacher- mentor- and friend MILIC. We lost our Father. He was one of the few Giants in Respiratory Physiology and although one of the greatest names in science, he was always very close to us, helpful, giving the outstanding example of mentorship. His passion for all aspects of life and energy were fantastic. I do believe that, we his Fellows and Friends, should organize an international society in his memory and keep alive his legacy for the future generations. ‘THE MILIC-EMILI FRIENDS AND FELLOWS SOCIETY OF PHYSIOLOGY” in order to pay tribute to his brilliant scientific mind, his mentorship and his friendship. I am hearing his voice “Nikos I do not like this point … go and check it again”.Nikos Siafakas
Our friend, colleague, teacher, master (and for many of us he played several of these roles) Milic passed away. Milic was a giant scientist, a giant teacher, with a giant heart. He was able to insufflate a bizarre mixture of toughness, rigour, divergence and fun in the research he performed and taught. With him, you could test the craziest of ideas, provided you did it “à la Margaria“, with extreme methodological care and unimpeachable intellectual honesty. And you could certainly learn about Bel Canto and have good laughs.Thomas Similowski
At the KCK ATS, Milic was Chairing a poster discussion session on work of breathing. He announced that he was not going to discuss any of the posters as none of them were measuring WOB correctly and proceeded to give a tute on how it should be done!Peter D Sly
Milic went on a very long sabbatical, but he will remain forever in our memories as a teacher, mentor and friend. He was an undisputed protagonist of respiratory pathophysiology which he indelibly marked with his personality and his scientific works. But perhaps what has distinguished him from many other important scientists is that he has always contributed in a fundamental way to the growth of all those (Italians, French, Spanish, Canadians etc.) who had the good fortune to know him, from a professional and above all human point of view, with his way of doing, his passions and his vitality. As some have well said, Milic was a giant who in some way and for some time carried us all on his shoulders.Claudio Tantucci
When I read the sad news all the memories I had with you, Milic and all the Meakins-Christie staff came back. I still hear him telling me “Who are you? Did you publish before?!!” He was my mentor and I was proud to be one of his students. He was a true leader. He knew how to promote your critical thinking and how to let you work harder to prove yourself. Nevertheless, he left us after a very fruitful journey but he will always be remembered with deep emotions.
Letter from Claudio Tantucci:
In loving memory of Joseph Milic-Emili:
Professor Joseph Milic-Emili, simply Milic, he who seemed to be “timeless” for us, is gone. I’d like to think he went somewhere nice, for an endless sabbatical, like he used to do, living his long life to the fullest.
He was my teacher, my mentor and a good friend, to me and many, many fellows of all ages, coming from all over the world. On behalf of all Italian fellows, without any kind of presumption, I would like to give him a proper and heartfelt farewell.
He was born in Sezana (currently part of Slovenia), but his heart belonged to Italy, as he attended high school and university respectively in Trieste and in Milan, as well as the School of Physiology of Milan, where he started doing research under the tutelage of Professor Margaria. All of this certainly played a role in building his unique character along with some sort of natural empathy towards other people, something that he always had throughout his life and that made him stand out among other similarly accomplished professors at McGill University in Montreal.
Milic came to work at McGill University, coming from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, at the beginning of the ‘60s. There, he took up the position of Head of the Department of Physiology and Medicine from 1973 to 1978, and later he came to be Director of Meakins-Christie Labs in 1979, a position he held for 14 years. Furthermore, he had been appointed professor emeritus of the Department of Physiology and Medicine of McGill University in 1998.
Milic was many things. He surely was a giant of Respiratory Physiopathology, with a profound intellectual integrity and an impeccable methodological approach. He is to be commended for the measurement of pleural pressure and of the electric activity of crural diaphragm through the use of the oesophageal catheter, the non-invasive assessment of neuromuscular drive through the P0.1, the recognition of the vertical gradient of pleural pressure, the discovery of the closing volume, the concept of expiratory flow-limitation and dynamic pulmonary hyperinflation and many other accomplishments. However, he also was an extraordinary communicator, being able to properly explain a lot of complex concepts (I am sure that someone still remembers the “spring”) no matter the audience, from Japan to India, from Canada to Italy, while expressing himself in at least five languages.
Charisma most certainly was in Milic’s nature; he was a true leader, capable of making his colleagues get passionate about respiratory physiopathology, but also about other things he loved about life, such as history (especially the Roman one), the opera, monumental cemeteries, novels, ancient coins, toy soldiers, his taste for good cuisine and his jokes (which became well-known all over the world).
He may very well be universally described as an inspiring man, larger than life.
He was a generous and helpful person, a friend to his co-workers which he remembered fondly, and with which always kept in touch. To him they were the most important thing in his life as a professor.
It is undoubtedly true that every single one of those countless students, researchers and colleagues who had the privilege and the luck of meeting him has memories and anecdotes that made him unforgettable, and I surely cannot tell all that I personally remember.
I would like to conclude with what one could read in a poster on his office: “God created few perfect heads; the rest covered them with hair.”
I will miss your laugh, your sparkling gaze and your faxes.
We will miss all of it, but your legacy will last for a very long time.
Goodbye Milic and thanks
and all his Italian Fellows
at Meakins-Christie Labs
Salvatore BellofioreLoubna Tayyara
Giuseppe Di Maria
Carlo Alberto Volta
I regard Milic as my most important “teacher at a distance”. As a young researcher, I wanted to be as imaginative as Milic — to dream up ideas out of nothing. To emulate Milic’s novel ways of extracting insights out of confusing data, especially through the use of mathematical gymnastics. And to apply logic as rigorously as Milic did. Milic’s influence on me as a researcher was—and is—immeasurable. I make these comments because I believe that Milic’s own self-evaluation in his conversation with Andrea Rossi is wrong. Milic’s legacy is not simply his papers. It was his ability to shape the minds of people who never worked with him – and mostly young researchers who never met him.Martin Tobin
So sad to hear of this news. He was a wonderful man, a brilliant scientist and someone who always had time to listen.Meri Tulic
My deepest condolences to Dr. Milic-Emili’s family and friends. I worked at Meakins-Christie from 1988-1994 and I have personally experienced his love and dedication to respiratory science. He was a great professor and mentor with a great sense of humour.Lijing Xu
According to a Brazilian writer, Guimaraes Rosa: “People don’t die, they are enchanted…”, which applies exactly to our common friend and mentor. He has been around us for so many decades, since the very first day each one of us met him and was instantly charmed. I keep finding myself repeating many of his phrases, gestures, and mannerisms, but I have never been able to even come close to him in cross-country skiing (he taught me into it), cooking or telling jokes. Once, back in 1982, we were attending a FASEB meeting in New Orleans and during an oral presentation session a speaker did not show up. Gillespie, who was chairing the session asked the audience what would we do and immediately someone said: “Let’s have Milic telling us jokes during these 15 minutes!”. There he went, a tremendous success! Sometimes I slept in and found a message by Milic on my desk: “Are you awake enough to go over the manuscript?” or he would phone me up saying: “This is Meakins-Christie wake up service, Sir, it is ten o’clock” and hung up! So, he is enchanted, no doubt, just think of him!Walter A. Zin