A pioneer in medical education, Dr. Jean Gray CM (LLD’05) has directed the proceeds of a life insurance policy to establish a scholarship for medical students that is named in honour of a beloved aunt.

Leader. Advocate. Mentor. Inspiration. Dr. Jean Gray, CM (LLD’05), Professor Emeritus, Medical Education, Medicine, and Pharmacology at Dalhousie University, is renowned worldwide for her pioneering work in clinical pharmacology, women’s health and the promotion of women in medicine.

Trained in internal medicine, Dr. Gray founded Dalhousie’s Division of General Medicine at a time when women physicians – let alone, women medical school faculty – were rare. Yet Gray’s stellar career might have taken an entirely different trajectory, had it not been for the financial support that funded her university education.

After the death of her Canadian Army father in Germany in 1956, money was tight. Jean’s mother fought long and hard for her to qualify for educational benefits from Veteran’s Affairs. Meanwhile, the top student applied for every scholarship available.

“Without financial assistance, I wouldn’t have been able to afford my education,” says Gray. Later, as a professor, Gray saw her own students struggle to manage the costs of medical school. One, in particular, stood out. “He kept losing weight and we wondered why,” she recalls. “It turned out he could afford only one meal a day.”

“I think that’s the moment I realized we must invest in these students,” says Gray. From that day forward, she ensured every student coming on the ward in the morning received a good breakfast.

So in her estate, Gray is creating a permanent source of support for future medical students. Through a life insurance policy that names Dalhousie as the owner and beneficiary, she has established a scholarship, named for a beloved aunt.

“My financial advisor pointed out that any gift left in my will would be taxed off the top once it goes through probate,” she explains. “The proceeds of the life insurance policy, however, will go directly to Dalhousie, meaning the funds can be put to work for the students right away.”

“And by saving on taxes, I’ll be leaving a larger gift,” adds Gray.

“I was blessed: Dalhousie always supported and encouraged me, in both medicine and pharmacology,” adds Gray, a 2020 inductee into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. “In fact, I can’t imagine any other university where I would have enjoyed such a satisfying career.”

“Now, I want to invest in the next generation of Dalhousie doctors and help them accomplish what I was able to do.”


Want to learn more? Contact Siobhan Doherty at Siobhan.Doherty@dal.ca or 902.494.6853

Collage of donor photos Donors on the cover of "Your Passion. Your Legacy. Your Impact"
Read more stories » Learn more about legacy giving »