Gold’s Rounds: Medicine, McGill, and Growing Up Jewish in Montreal by Phil Gold

Being a hospital librarian, I get an array of interesting requests, ranging from work to treat actual patients to people’s current research interests. Some time ago, someone asked me to track down work by the physician Phil Gold, a renowned Canadian physician-researcher. I’ve always remembered his name, and so when Gold’s Rounds was published, I was intrigued to read about Dr. Gold’s life, as he tells it.

Dr. Gold is in his late eighties now, and has led a fairly remarkable life as a physician and researcher, and is most known for co-discovering the carcinoembryonic antigen (the CEA assay), which is used to this day to test for cancer. An incredible discovery in itself, and one that Gold does a great job of explaining in his memoir, though he does, in not only this case, but several others, gently effaces himself. What shone in this memoir was the design and accompanying photos, as well as the feeling of hearing a story told over the kitchen table by an elderly relative. It was strangely cozy for a book about a physician’s long life and practice of medicine.

On flip side, if you’re looking for hard-hitting analysis of medicine and its evolution through the twentieth and twenty-first century, deeper exploration of Jewish physicians and the discrimination they suffered in training in Montreal (this is touched on, though not much explored in-depth), this is not the book. This is a sweet reflection about life from a physician of status, who expresses gratitude for the experiences he had and the life he’s been able to live. I enjoyed reading this, but didn’t find it overly memorable, in terms of how Gold told the story of his life. It’s a grandfather sharing his incredulity about life, which is very sweet. I always feel somewhat selfish about my expectations for memoirs, because they’re what the author wanted to share about their lives, not what I wanted them to explore. So this was fine, though I maybe wasn’t the right audience for it, as I was looking for something more technical. And that’s okay! Gold’s Rounds is still a pleasant book to read, and offers some insight into the events around his major career moves, like the discovery of the CEA assay.


Phil Gold is professor emeritus, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, inaugural director of the Goodman Cancer Institute, Companion of the Order of Canada, and former Physician-in-Chief of the Montreal General Hospital.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ McGill-Queen’s University Press (April 15 2023)
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 200 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0228017585

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Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.