In Memoriam: Gordon Hard

By Samuel Cohen posted 12-09-2021 13:42


It is with profound sadness that I share the memoriam for Dr. Gordon Hard. I had the pleasure of knowing Gordon for over two decades. In addition to all of what you will read in this tribute, I will share that Gordon was generous with his time and whenever I saw him during an SOT or STP meeting he stopped to sit and talk with me about my research and my career goals, and he always had supportive and encouraging words. No one asked Gordon to be my mentor; we had a common interest in renal pathology and that was the beginning of many years of great scientific banter and priceless advice. I will miss him. —Myrtle Davis, DVM, PhD, ATS, 2021–2022 SOT President

This blog was written by Drs. Samuel M. Cohen, Wanda M. Haschek-Hock, and Carl Alden. It was originally shared with the membership of the Society of Toxicologic Pathology.

Dr. Gordon Hard, of Tairua, New Zealand, a preeminent international toxicology thought leader and international consultant in toxicologic pathology of the kidney, passed on November 22, 2021. He was a key player in shaping and developing the global field of toxicologic pathology and the role of toxicologic pathology in risk assessment of environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Hard was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1931. Dr. Hard received a BSc from the University of Auckland in 1955 and a Bachelor of Veterinary Science in 1959 from the University of Sydney (Australia). He then practiced veterinary medicine as Chief Veterinarian in the rural districts of Taihape and Raetihi in New Zealand. A moment of epiphany occurred when, after working all day and night, he crashed his car on a mountainous road and, in recovery, decided to go into pathology.

After receiving his PhD from the University of Sydney in 1968 and later a DSc from the University of Melbourne (Australia) in 1978, Dr. Hard worked with Professor Peter Magee in renal cancer research at the Fels Institute of Research at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, where he was appointed as Professor. Thus began his specialization in renal carcinogenesis and chemical injury, beginning with several seminal papers about the nitroso compounds. He then became Head of Carcinogenesis Research at the University of New South Wales (Australia) and later Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the British Industrial Biological Research Association (BIBRA), Carshalton, Surrey, UK. Subsequently he served as Director of the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York, USA. He continued his research in renal toxicologic pathology, including consulting, while in those administrative roles.

After stepping down from research leadership roles, which some would call retirement, he became a widely sought-after renal pathology consultant to the pharmaceutical, chemical, consumer product, and government organizations in North America, Europe, and Japan. He published hundreds of scientific articles and many chapters, and also presented at a wide variety of meetings and venues, including teaching kidney pathology to future generations of toxicologic pathologists. Numerous awards attest to Dr. Hard’s valuable scientific contributions, including an Honorary Membership in the American College of Veterinary Pathologists in 2005 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Toxicologic Pathology in 2017. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Toxicologic Pathology, Founding Editor‑in‑Chief for Toxicology in Vitro, and Editor‑in‑Chief for Food & Chemical Toxicology. He also was a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and the Royal College of Pathologists (London), and was awarded the DVSc from the University of Sydney for his research contributions.

Dr. Hard was multitalented, in his early years playing college soccer (University of Sydney) and semiprofessional soccer (Melbourne InterVarsity Football) in Australia. He had a love of music throughout his career, playing the keyboard for house guests. He snow skied every year well into his seventh decade. In a multifamily ski outing in Nevada, Dr. Hard had everyone listen to “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba, his favorite song. He was a student of nature with the ability to identify myriad plant and animal species. He particularly liked hosting visitors at his home in Tairua, with its spectacular views of the ocean, beaches, and mountains. He and his wife, Ruth, served as guides to many for the north island of New Zealand, educating the visitors about the history, nature, and beauty of his homeland for which he had great pride and many stories.

Dr. Hard is survived by his wife, Ruth, daughter Cassandra Hard (Wentworth Falls, Australia) and sons Dr. James (Jake) J. Hard (Caerphilly, Wales) and Nicolas (Nic) J.C. Hard (Benidoleig, Spain), six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He had dual citizenship in Australia/New Zealand, with resident status in the United States.

We have lost a pillar of the renal toxicology/pathology community and a gentleman and scholar in society.

1 comment


12-29-2021 10:28

Thank you for posting this wonderful commentary on Gordon's life and career.  His scientific curiosity and intellectual generosity were beyond compare.  He will be missed.  I first met Gordon when I was a graduate student in the early 80's.  He took the time to answer my questions about his already significant body of published work.  Our paths crossed regularly throughout my career and Gordon always took the time to catch up and share his latest ideas.  The remarkable thing is how many others had similar experiences.  I would like to offer my condolences to his family but also to all those in the Tox/Path community that knew Gordon as a friend.