Iodine Global Network (IGN)

An IGN tribute to Professor John Lazarus on his retirement

October 2020
Professor Lazarus and colleagues at the 2018 Euthyroid meeting on the Krakow Declaration on Iodine, which calls on policymakers, public health officials and scientists to join forces to ensure that existing strategies to prevent IDD are implemented across Europe.
Professional, friendly, gentle, wise, a teacher like few others, and a person who has been deeply committed to IGN and the iodine cause – these are some of the words used by the colleagues of Dr. John Lazarus as they reflect on their interactions with him during his time with IGN, which will come to a close at the end of 2020.

“My deepest gratitude not only for your dedication and tremendous commitment to the work of iodine nutrition, but most of all to your humility and positivity. You have always provided such an uplifting spark to all the work that we have done, and we are so appreciative”, said IGN Executive Director Jonathan Gorstein. Other colleagues recalled moments with John over the years.

“John and I joined IGN about the same time, so we were the ’new kids’ together. John has been a wonderful IGN colleague and a huge asset to the organization, said Karen Codling, Regional Coordinator for South East Asia and Pacific. “He brought years of experience and knowledge and a new perspective. He faced some unique challenges in his region, and it was always enlightening to hear his analysis of the issues and how he felt they could be approached. But he also brought a wonderful sense of dry British humor and a positive outlook. Having been a National Coordinator himself, he had a long history of working with IGN and was deeply committed to the organization and the iodine cause. He will be sorely missed. I wish him well in this next phase of his life and hope that he stays in touch.”

“In October 2016 in Harbin, you described the work of ending iodine deficiency as a big ship. When the captain wants to change the direction of travel, the ship cannot turn this quickly. Your words impressed me,” said Regional Coordinator for China and East Asia Ming Quian. He described John as professional, friendly, gentle and wise, and especially recalls John’s smile during a long chat at dinner in Shenzhen in October 2018.

“I know it is a tough decision you have made to step aside from work you loved, embraced and implemented with passion to Britons and the world at large through the practical academic ideas that you shared. 53 years is not a joke! We thank you for all you have done to the world in tackling the iodine deficiency problem and we will keep on remembering you and the constructive ideas you have left for us”, said Vincent Assey, Regional Coordinator in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Renuka Jayatissa of Sri Lanka praised the depth of Professor Lazarus’ knowledge about thyroid. “Everyone – senior or junior – respected him, which is rare in the medical community. Some of the unresolved thyroid issues in some areas of the country could not have been pulled off without him. We would like to thank him for the difference he made in the lives of our citizens! In a Buddhist way, that merit is sufficient for him to maintain his good health.”

“A teacher like few others for the continent and the world,” is how Ivette Sandino of Central America and Caribbean region describes Professor Lazarus, describing how he shared the knowledge and experience he acquired in his long time in the field.

“Your honorable deeds and scientific contributions will continue to lighten the future of coming generations and humankind”, said Izzeldin Hussein of Middle East and North Africa region in a moving tribute to Professor Lazarus, wishing him well – as do all of us at IGN.