About André Cipriani
André Cipriani, son of Leonetto Paul, Jose Emmanuel's son with his second wife Helen Lange, demonstrated from an early age an interest in science which grew after he entered St. Mary's College. His sister Louise wrote of him:“Realizing Andre's great potential, Papy started to gear him from an early age for the scholarship class, Unfortunately Papy died the year before Andre was successful in obtaining the Science Scholarship. Andre left for Canada and McGill University in 1928 to take up studies in Electrical Engineering, but when he arrived at McGill he was encouraged into the field of Mathematics and Physics. He took his B.Sc. and M.Sc. with first class honours.” (Louise Cipriani.) After the war, André entered the field of Atomic Energy. He became director of Biology and Radiation Hazards at the Atomic Energy Plant at Chalk River in Canada. He became a scientist of international reputation in this field of research, creating a unique laboratory. Through his pioneering efforts Andre Cipriani and his colleagues and staff at Chalk River developed "the first highly active cobalt sixty sources" which were made for the treatment of malignant diseases. Several hundred cobalt therapy units have since been produced by the commercial products division of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and sold worldwide, they have brought relief to thousands of suffering patients. (David A. Keys Atoms at your Service, Exhibition-Royal Ontario Museum January 29 1960) At his death at48 in 1956 the BBC gave him a three minute obituary describing him as the most knowledgeable man in the world on radiation hazards. He was married and had four daughters. His success in the field of atomic research for peace is not known in Trinidad, nor that he was a victim of his own research. The Cipriani family produced in just about every generation an outstanding figure, especially in the fields of business, civic administration, sport, the military and finally in science.
Dr. André Cipriani's Timeline
April 2, 1908
Port of Spain, San Juan-Laventille, Trinidad & Tobago
February 23, 1956
ANDRE JOSEPH CIPRIANI
The sudden death of Dr. A. J. Cipriani in the Deep River Hospital on February 23rd, a few hours following a stroke, came as a great shock to his wide circle of friends by whom he will be greatly missed and has removed the leading authority in Canada on the biological and medical aspects of atomic energy at the age of 47. As Director of the Biology Division of the Atomic Energy of Canada Plant at Chalk River since the start of the project, he has become a scientist of international reputation in this field of research and has created a laboratory that is unique in the breadth of fundamental and applied investigations which its staff are performing. He pioneered the development of the Cobalt-60 Therapy units which are used for the treatment of cancer. He was a member of numerous national and international committees. He was Canada's representative on the International Commission on Radiological Protection and was Chairman of that commission's sub-committee on the handling and disposal of radioisotopes. He was the Canadian representative on the United National committee to study the effects of atomic radiation. He assisted in the organization and training of the army radiation detection unit, and by his firm control and administration of the health physics program, no employee at the Chalk River plant has received excessive harmful radiation. He contributed many scientific papers to various international meetings, including the Geneva Conference last August, and also to journals, as well as writing sections for British medical encyclopeadias. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. Cipriani was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1908. He came to McGill University in 1928 with a scholarship and entered the Faculty of Applied Science with the intention of becoming an engineer. However, his excellent ability in mathematics and physics led him to change in his third year to the honour course in mathematics and physics from which he graduated with high first class standing in 1932, receiving his B.Sc. degree. After a year of demonstrating in the physics department, during which period he completed some further engineering courses, he decided to proceed to the study of medicine and entered that Faculty at McGill. He interrupted his course for a year or two to assist Dr. Penfield and his staff with the design and construction of electronic equipment in connection with neurophysiology. He received his M.D. and C.M. degrees in 1940. During the Second World War he served in the Canadian Army as a medical officer doing research on various medical problems, including that of motion sickness. On the conclusion of hostilities he joined the Atomic Energy Project when the construction at Chalk River commenced.
Cipriani was a man of striking personality; along with his tremendous ability and sound judgment, there was always a lighter touch, a sense of fun. He worked hard and took his work seriously, but never himself. He was popular among scientists and local country inhabitants alike, well known throughout the Ottawa valley as an enthusiastic fisherman. Immensely fond of children, he took special pleasure in interesting them in natural phenomena, insects of various kinds which he bred at the laboratory, flowers, or geological specimens. Any week-end in the summer, he could be seen in his open Model A Ford car, which he found useful for fishing expeditions, giving his own and other children a ride round the village, managing a huge load with a kindly but firm discipline.
A much-loved figure has departed from the Canadian scene, and physicists everywhere extend their deepest symthathy to his widow and four young daughters.
- D. A. Keys