In Memory of Jeanette J.A. Holden


Jeanette J.A. Holden, PhD, FCCMG

Jeanette was born in Vancouver and obtained her BSc and PhD with Dr. David Suzuki in Genetics. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship (funded by the Killam Foundation) at the Biozentrum in Basel, Switzerland, with Dr. Walter Gehring, she was a visiting scientist at Cambridge University in the UK, guest scientist at the Biozentrum in Szeged, Hungary and the University of Lund in Sweden, and lecturer at UBC, before coming to Queen’s University in 1978. From 1979-1986, she was the director of the Cytogenetics Service Lab at Kingston General Hospital and had academic appointments in the Departments of Biology and Pediatrics at Queen’s. Since 1986, she was director of the Cytogenetics & DNA Research Lab (and the Autism Research Laboratory) at Ongwanada and professor of Psychiatry and Physiology at Queen’s. Dr. Holden’s main research was on the genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders and various intellectual and behavioural disabilities, including Fragile X Syndrome and other forms of X-linked mental retardation (XLMR). Since 2001, she was Program Director of the Autism Spectrum Disorders – Canadian-American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC), carrying out interdisciplinary research dedicated to “Unraveling the Mystery of Autism Spectrum Disorders” ( The Team has received major research grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Ontario Mental Health Foundation, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, a CIHR Interdisciplinary Health Research Team grant and a CIHR Strategic Grant for Autism Research Training, co-funded by Autism Speaks/NAAR ( She worked together with Autism Ontario, Autism Society Canada and other autism organizations to develop a Virtual Community of Autism Stakeholders ( She served on the Board of Autism Ontario (formerly Autism Society Ontario) for many years until 2004, but continued as a member of its research committee. She was also a Board Member of Autism Society Canada. Her brother, Jim – who is autistic – and her family were her inspiration for helping other individuals and families with ASDs and other developmental disabilities. She believed that by working together, the lives of all persons with disabilities will be enriched.

In April 2007 she was diagnosed with leukemia. She fought this terrible disease with strength and resolve, and continued to be very involved with her research during her illness. On February 22nd she passed away peacefully at home with her mom holding her hands and her loved ones by her side. She is survived by her mother Anne and her brothers Jim and Brian.

We lost a dear friend, a great mentor, a brilliant educator, visionary researcher, passionate scientist and steadfast leader in the autism community. She will be deeply missed. But at the same time Jeanette leaves a strong legacy and pride amongst us to have worked with her as a team to advance her vision and enable the common goals that she inspired. Together, with your continued support, we will ensure the continuation of Jeanette's substantial legacy and collaborations through ASD-CARC to honour her remarkable career, love, compassion and unending support for the global autism community.

Jeanette's Remembrance Service was held on Wednesday March 21st at 3pm at the Ongwanada Resource Centre. The day of Jeanette's Remembrance Service turned out to be a beautiful spring day, a fitting setting to remember someone who avidly looked forward to spring so she could see all the bulbs in her garden poke through the soil and come life. Many stories were shared by family and friends and colleagues. Of course there were tears, but there were a lot of laughs too as we reminisced about our experiences with Jeanette.

If you would like to have a message posted on this page and included in a memory book for her family, please email your message to

Jeanette's family has requested that any donations in her honour should be directed to a special research fund in memory of Jeanette to help support the Autism Research Program she established and devoted herself to at Queen's/Ongwanda, aiming at making the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders better. We wish to continue this vision that Jeanette began. Cheques can be made payable to "Ongwanada, In Jeanette's memory" and a charitable receipt will be issued (mailing address Autism Research Program, 191 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, ON, K7M 8A6). Donations can also be made online at through the Ongwanada Hospital. Please be sure to indicate "In Jeanette's Memory" under special instructions.



From: Melissa Hudson, ASD-CARC Research Coordinator, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, former student, current employee
"I met Jeanette when I was 17 years old as a potential co-op student in her lab. I was already excited by the possibility of working in a genetics lab, and Dr. Holden's excitement about her research only added to my own. It is now 19 years later and I'm still here and still loving what I do thanks to Jeanette's ever growing vision for our research program. I will miss having her here to share our successes with." 

From: Ira Cohen, PhD, Chairman, Dept. of Psychology, Laboratory Head, Behavioral Assessment & Research, NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island, NY
"It's doubly hard for me to write about Jeanette because she was such a good friend and colleague and because the same disease that took her life also took my father's life.

We first met because of our joint interest in fragile X (at these early meetings) and then re-established contact several years ago because of autism so it seems we were destined to work together on similar topics of interest. Jeanette was a dedicated, brilliant, hard-working, and productive person who enjoyed life despite many personal hardships.  I always admired her ability to see the positive side of things and her constant effort to include family members in her research plans. 

I will miss working with her, our meetings in Kingston where we had plenty of time to talk about family and research plans, and her enthusiasm for life.  She was taken way too soon and remained optimistic to the end.  Autism has lost an important friend and advocate."

From: David Suzuki, PhD, CC, OCB, Professor Emeritus University of British Columbia (Jeanette's PhD supervisor)

"I was shocked to learn of Jeanette's death.  Please accept my deep condolences.  I am so sorry that I wasn't aware of how ill she was.

Jeanette was one of the brightest and most driven students I have ever had.  It was very early in my career and the lab was a hotbed of ideas and camaraderie.  She always had a quick laugh and was ready to join in our high jinks.  She wanted so much to do research in an area related to her brother's illness and I watched her career with admiration.  She is a great loss to the scientific community and the community of families dealing with autism."

From: Pratibha Reebye, MBBS, DPM, MRC (Psych), FRCPC, Clinical Professor, University of British Columbia
"I am so sorry that we have lost a visionary world class researcher and a very gentle human soul. I came to know Jeanette more closely  when I attended the ASD conference in Kingston. She was a true mentor who could see different life possibilities in one shot. Jeanette, thanks for sharing your enthusiasm about autism research. I hope to do a little work in that respect to keep your legacy going."

From: Margaret Bauman, MD, Neurologist, Associate Professor, LADDERS
"I feel that we have lost a real pioneer in the field as well as a good colleague and friend. She handled her struggle with leukemia with amazing optimism and grace. We will all miss her tremendously. Our most sincere sympathy not only to her immediate family but to her many close friends and colleagues.She was a very special lady." 

From: Elena Lopez
"I am so terribly sorry to hear about this. We need to rejoice however in the life she led and the knowledge she encouraged us to create." 

From: John Vincent, PhD, CAMH
"Although not unexpected, nonetheless the loss seems immense and overwhelming. Devastated." 

From: James Doiron, former student of Jeanette's
"Respectfully offering my condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Dr. Jeanette Holden. I worked during my undergraduate years at Queen's University in Jeanette's lab (ASD-CARC), and was fortunate enough to be able to write my undergraduate thesis there. I can truthfully say that the skills and lessons I learned during that time have been key to my successes both during my graduate studies, as well as in my current position at the University of Alberta. Jeanette was a unique person, an accomplished academic, and no one could ever question her passion when it came to her research and community involvement in the area of autism spectrum disorders. Rest peacefully, Jeanette." 

From: Maurice Feldman, PhD, C.Psych, BCBA-D
"I am deeply saddened by Jeannette's passing. She was an inspiration to me as a researcher, teacher and advocate. Her determination, commitment and achievements in autism research and advocacy are legendary. We still have considerable work to do that Jeannette began and our ongoing achievements will be her legacy. To her family, my thoughts are with you, and I know that you know that she was much loved and respected by those of us who had the privilege of calling her a friend and colleague. "

From: Derrick MacFabe M.D.,  Director, The Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group, U. of Western Ontario
"Jeanette was a very brilliant, but kind, humble and selfless person who  completely devoted her life to others.  I was honoured to have her as a friend and mentor. She was extremely kind to us when we started, and continually gave advice and encouragement. Despite her illness, she never lost her love and wonder of life, her passion to know and to use that knowledge to help others. Her favorite sayings, always at the end of her correspondences,  were so typical of her:

"Some things have to be believed to be seen" - Ralph Hodgson (1871-1962)
"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit" - Nelson Henderson

So, let us all take a moment to remember Jeanette, and to celebrate a life well  lived. I want to thank all of you at ASD-CARC continuing to do this important work for others, and helping spreading goodness for its own sake, something  that Jeanette believed in very deeply. Thank you for allowing us to continue Jeanette’s mission with you. Our thoughts go out to you Anne, Jim and Brian."

From: Virginia Walker, PhD, Dept. Biology, Queen's University
"I was sorry to hear this news, and I am very sorry for your loss. I have known Jeanette since 1981 and Queen's will not be the same place without her."

From: Andrew, Elizabeth & Gerald Bloomfield, Guelph, Ontario
"Jeanette will be sadly missed by many for her powerful mind, generous heart and dynamic energy in making connections. We knew her mainly through being another family living with an adult on the autism spectrum. As well as everything she did so well, Jeanette reached out to families. Her “Jim’s Story” on the ASD-CARC website is a testament to her love for Jim and pride in his accomplishments. We think especially of Jim as he grieves for his sister. We will always remember Jeanette."

From: Selena Jones, proud Mum to an autistic child, and strong advocate for families living with Autism
"I will be forever grateful for the doors you opened for my child. Your passion, dedication, and inspiration will be missed in our community, but the legacy you left will carry forward. My sincerest condolences to all that have been touched by Dr. Holden's life. Continue to live out her work. She would be so very proud."

From: Mehek Ali, BAH Candidate (Psychology), Queen's University, former student
"Dr. Holden was one of the most innovative and driven people I have ever met. She encouraged me to pursue my research interests, and inspired me to be creative. This past summer working with her has been a wonderful experience, and I hope all her efforts and hard work are carried forward. I will remember you always, Dr. Holden. Rest in peace."

From: Daniel Oickle, Community Advocate
"From the Oickle Family of Ottawa we send our prayers to the family in the terrible lose, we praise her work and are very sorry to learn of her passing and may God be with her and her loved ones God bless you all."

From: Danuta Loesch, MD, PhD, La Trobe University, Melborne, Victoria, Australia
"Sad beyond words. Jeanette was such a good and loyal friend, always thought of other people not herself, worked so very hard for the benefit of others and loved life in spite of her various personal problems and burdens. It is so tragic and unfair that such people are taken away from us so soon. But I am sure she will continue living in hearts and minds of many people  for many years to come. I know that she greatly appreciated the help and friendship of her colleagues from Autism Research Program during her illness that she bore with such courage, optimism and dignity. She was just a beautiful human being."

From: Jenny Torr
"Thank you for letting me know this very sad news. Please give my condolences to Jeanette's mother and brother Jim. I visited them at home when I visited Queen's, maybe in 2006. Jeanette visited Melbourne not long before the diagnosis. I remember that she was unwell at the time. We did though go to Phillip Island to watch the fairy penguin parade. I am deeply sad."

From: Marilen Miguel
"My deepest sympathy to Jeanette's family. Jeanette's invaluable contribution to Autism research and advocacy will always be remembered but above all, what I will remember most was the beautiful person that she was, her deep love for her family, her grace, compassion, courage, humour and humility. She will be sorely missed.  Rest in peace, Jeanette."

From: The Wade family
"We were saddened  to hear about Dr. Holden's passing away. It was heartening that she was able to be at home with family and people who loved her . Thank you Dr. Holden for founding ASD-CARC and for your ongoing efforts  for  autism research. Your compassionate support for everyone in the autism community, individuals and families alike, were deeply appreciated and will not be forgotten."

From: Maria Syrrou, PhD, University of Ioannina
"Very sad news indeed. Jeanette was a dear friend, a very special, always positive thinking person and I will miss her a lot.She was my mentor from abroad and an encouraging voice. My deepest condolences  to Jeanette's immediate family and all you her close colleagues and friends. I would like to work in the continuation of her vision."

From: Sandra Farrell, MD, Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga, Ontario
"Jeanette always had a smile and saw the glass as half full, regardless of what was going on. She will be missed and I know you will miss her."

From: Marsha Speevak, PhD, FCCMG, FACMG, Laboratory Geneticist, Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga, Ontario
"I have known Jeanette for close to 30 years through many professional and social interactions.  Looking back, I was fortunate to have had her as an examiner at my thesis defense, as I am sure she asked the kind of questions that she guessed I would excel at answering!  This was because she had a kind and generous heart.  I saw her annually at the Great Lakes Chromosome Conference and during those years, she could always be counted on to chair one of the scientific sessions.  When I imagine Jeanette, I see her smiling; her enthusiasm, curiosity and love of our field of science was extraordinary and her vibrant presence will be sorely missed."

From: Jayne (and Riley with autism) and Michaela
"Please send our condolences. First Lindsay Moir the other week and now Dr Holden. We have lost some great autism advocates..."

From: Edmund Jenkins, PhD, FACMG, New Yorkk State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island, NY
"I'm so sorry that Jeanette had to leave us.  She was an enthusiastic "can do" Person and Scientist/Professor.  I have known Jeanette for at least 25 years!  Our field and circle of friends has lost a most valuable member.  Surely Jeanette fought valiantly to overcome this awful disease and my thoughts and prayers are with all of you in her family and her colleagues and friends involved in Jeanette's academic/scientific programs and laboratories."

From: Hagit Shatkay, PhD, University of Delaware
"These are very sad news to receive. Jeanette was my first research collaborator at Queen's (since 2004). What immediately stood out was her remarkable generosity. She readily shared her insight, her time, her data, or anything else that she sensed was needed. There was also a strong feeling that Jeanette was loyal: to her students and collaborators, to the ASD community and to their families, to the scientific work she was doing, and to her own family. I feel fortunate, honored, and grateful to have had her as a collaborator and as a friend, and I know that I will greatly miss her. My heartfelt condolences go to Jeanette's family and close friends. I hope that the joyful and beautiful memories Jeanette has left behind her, as well as the knowledge that her life had so much impact and that her work will be continued, all bring with them some comfort."

From: Susan Morris, BSW, MSW, RSW, Clinical Director Dual Diagnosis Program, CAMH, Toronto, ON
"I am terribly saddened by this news. I only had an opportunity to know Jeanette through her leadership in the founding of CARE-ID/ACREDI and at touch points during her journey with leukemia. I experienced her to be a person of incredible strength, optimism and passion regardless of the hurdles in her professional and personal life.  She will be missed by many."

From: Natalie Kolomeitz-Douglas, former student & employee
"I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work in Dr. Holden's research lab and with the ASD-CARC team. I am both proud and privileged to have known her and worked with her. I look back on that time fondly often remembering Dr. Holden's remarkable passion and outstanding work ethic. She was a very special woman and has touched the lives of many.  Her research and contributions to the autism community and Queen's University will live on in many ways. ~Thousands of candles can be lit by one single flame.~"

From: Anne Kresta, Inclusive Education and Community Development Specialist, Community Living Manitoba
"So sorry to read this news.  She was truly a mover and a shaker in the world of Autism in Canada.  A great model for how to move the agenda forward in a respectful way.  She will be missed."

From: Lynn Andrews, Autism Society Canada
"I am very saddened to hear of Jeanette’s passing, having worked closely with her on a number of community projects over the years.  I will miss her as a friend and we will miss her deeply here at ASC.  She was that rare “accessible” scientist in our autism community, generously sharing with us her knowledge, sage advice, enthusiasm for breaking down barriers and her keen interest in just about everything!  She brought tremendous energy to her research work and also shared a deep compassion and understanding with the individuals and families she championed so tirelessly. My warmest thoughts and very best wishes to her family during this difficult time."

From: Andrew Brown, PhD, Progeny Software
"Jeanette was so dedicated, thoughtful and inspiring. I will miss our discussions of science, life and of our place in the Universe. It’s a long story but whenever I see a hummingbird I will think of her."

From: Lynda, friend
"I am so saddened to hear of Jeanette's passing. My sincere condolences to her family and colleagues, grieving the loss of such a gentle, passionate soul. We met through Autism Ontario in the late 1990s, then worked together with the Ontario Partnership for Adults with Autism and Aspergers (OPAAA) in creating the "Forgotten" paper on the needs of adults with ASD. Her brother and my son share many similar challenges of living with ASD. I truly value our time sharing personal experiences, gaining strengh and purpose from each other. In 2003 Autism Ontario also honoured Jeanette by creating the "Jeanette Holden Post-Secondary Entrance Scholarship for Siblings of Individuals with ASD." Over 60 siblings in Ontario have received a scholarship in her name. Through these siblings, Jeanette's passion also lives on. May you rest peacefully in your Garden of Hope, my friend."

From: Rosemary Mueller, PhD, FCCMG, Victoria General Hospital, Victoria, BC
"I am sad to hear of the passing of Dr. Jeanette Holden. Dr. Holden was my introduction to cytogenetics when she was kind enough to meet with me after her lectures in an undergraduate genetics course at Queen’s to discuss cytogenetics as a field of research.  Dr. Holden’s accessibility and friendliness were the nudge through a doorway that led to a career for me.  I will always be grateful to her."

From: Annette Vogt
"What sad news - and a terrible loss! I had the pleasure of meeting with her and hearing her speak. A very dedicated woman - to her brother and the autism community. My condolences to her family."

From: Leah Miltchin, President Autism Ontario
"I think anyone who ever met Jeanette couldn’t help but come away with a smile and a desire to join her in making the world a better place.  I will always remember her for her brilliant mind, her enthusiastic determination, and especially her heart of gold.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Jeanette’s family, friends, colleagues, and the many others who loved and admired her.  She will be greatly missed."

From: Diana Borst
"This is very sad news.One less great advocate for autistic kids. Jeanette will be missed by so many."

From: Mary Seeman
"Jeanette – you were and are always an inspiration to me, as a friend, as a scientist, as an amazing person, always ready to help anyone in need.  In deepest sorrow and sympathy for Anne, Brian, and Jim."

From: Ann Phillips, BSc, MSc, PhD
"I was deeply saddened to hear about Jeanette's passing this morning but like many others will continue to celebrate the work she has done and the many contribution she has made.  I am a former student who did my Masters research with Dr. Jeanette Holden and Dr Brad White at Queen's from 1981 to 1984.  As well as being a dedicated researcher, Jeanette was a very compassionate and caring person, who made everyone feel welcome. My prayers go out to her family and friends.  May she rest in peace."

From: Liz Gribbon
"I am so sorry for your loss as you will be impacted significantly on both personal and professional levels. Your write up was beautifully written. We need more people in the world like Dr. Holden."

From: Mary Konstantareas, PhD, C.Psych, Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph

"It is with deep sadness we have been informed of Jeanette's loss to us all. We were optimistic, along with Jeanette, that she would overcome this major enemy. Despite the courage she showed us all, she had to succumb. May her spirit and legacy influence her many students and admirers to continue on her path."

From: Clara Dunne

"We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Jeanette Holden.  We've never met her but have been in contact with her over the years as we have a son with Autism and have taken part in some of her studies.  The world is a better place because of her and I admire her dedication to such a worthy cause.  It gave our family so much hope knowing there was someone out there so determined to find out what maybe causing this disability.  May she rest in peace and ever be remembered for all the good she has done for so many families.  I'm sure her spirit will guide others in the right direction and be a constant presence in the research for Autism.  We're so very saddened to received this news today.  R.I.P."

From: Mary Bouchard, former student and employee
"Jeanette had the unique ability to see the best in everybody. She was always looking for ways to give to her community, while never expecting anything in return. Jeanette was by far the most dedicated person I have ever had the honour to call a friend and mentor, and her tireless enthusiasm was infectious. I am deeply distraught by her passing, and I send my condolences to her mother Anne, her brothers Jim and Brian, and the rest of her friends and family."

From: Louise McGoey

"What sad news - I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Autism Conference in Toronto and discussed with her the dual diagnosis of DS & Autism. She was kind, caring and compassionate. We have lost a champion. My warmest and most sincere condolences to her family and colleagues at Queens."

From: Ruth Hatton
"I am so sadenned with the loss of a beautiful human.  I am a grandmother of an autistic child and Jeanette always encouraged, loved, and was there for us.  I so feel for her Mom and her brother Jim who she always championed.   What a loss to all of us!  I was so happy that I was able to see her last month at KGH and learn that she would be able to return to her earthly home.  So many hugs for Jeanette.  Now, she is truly home!  What a welcome she will receive. Hugs, as Jeanette would, to all who were lucky enough to know this beautiful human. God Bless."

From: Kim Crowder
"As the mom of a child (now 12 years old) diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and severe mental handicap, I found Jeanette’s newsletters, in particular, truly inspiring. To this day, I frequently share with others something she said – and I meditate on it for myself.  “Non-verbal and apparently inattentive does not mean that a person is not taking in everything the world has to offer.”  Thankfully, I emailed her at the time to let her know how inspiring that quote was and I also shared with her a poster I had made of my son with this quote on it. I gladly share it with you again now. I am thankful for Jeanette’s stories about Jim; for the information she imparted at speaking engagements; for the opportunity she gave us to participate in research; and I am thankful for her transparency in her passion for her work and love for her family.  She was a brilliant mind with a down-to-earth, loving personality. Our condolences to Jeanette’s family, but also our thanks to them for sharing their journey with us through Jeanette, and for inspiring and supporting Jeanette in her quest to help all of us.  There is no question you were a very big part of her success."

From Christine Dade, Past President Autism Ontario, Past President Autism Society Canada
"It is with deep sadness that I heard the news of Jeanette's passing. My prayers and thoughts are with Jeanette's family and friends. My friendship with Jeanette began many years ago when I joined the Autism Ontario Board and continued on as she joined me on the Autism Society Canada Board. Her enthusiasm and joy of life were always an inspiration to me. I loved being around her.  She made me laugh, cry and be thankful.  Jeanette had that gift.  Jeanette's spirit, work ethic, and legacy will live on for many years, as an inspiration to students, fellow teachers and researchers and many others in the Autism community.  Thank you my friend, I will miss you."

From: Kay Murray, BSN, RN, Research Study Nurse, MGH, Boston, Massachusetts
"I am incredibly saddened to receive this news.  In addition to sharing her brilliance & vision with us all, Jeanette had a warm & wonderful way of welcoming & caring for those of us who had the honor of sharing even just a little bit of the path she walked.  I will miss knowing that she is on this earth with us. And I am most grateful to Jeanette’s family for sharing her with us through the years."

From: Ted Brown, MD, PhD, Staten Island, NY
"Jeanette's boundless enthusiasm and tireless dedication will be deeply missed. She was a true pioneer in the field. My wife Donna and I met her back in 1985 on the beaches of Dunk Island and we are very sorry to learn of her passing. Our condolences to her family and many, many friends."

From: Jennifer Bardwell
"I once remarked to a friend that Jeanette was like a force of nature - she was so passionate and determined in her work that it was almost impossible to imagine her not creating success at whatever she took on. Sadly, she was not able to conquer leukemia. Her life was filled with joy, acceptance, and drive, and she was an inspiration to so many. Her legacy will be felt in so many ways. I hope that we can all continue to work towards a deeper understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorders, and that we can take a little of her spark and apply it to our own lives and to the lives of those we love."

From: Shameem
"I am so sorry to here the news. We all should pray for her departed soul. It is our responsibility to uphold her views and thoughts and to go forward to her directed path. May Allah keep her in the best heaven."

From: Darrell J. Tomkins, PhD, FCCMG, DFA, Professor Emeritus of Medical Genetics, University of Alberta
"My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Jeanette’s mother, Ann, and her brothers Jim and Brian.  I have had the privilege to meet Ann and Jim at Jeanette’s family home in Kingston.  I am shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a good colleague and wonderful friend.   I had hoped that she might make it to the Great Lakes Chromosome Conference in May.  I remember well when she first came to my laboratory at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in 1978 to 'learn' clinical cytogenetics from me.  And when I became a research scholar in 1980, she helped me find my first research technician, Sherry Taylor. 

She went on to contribute to the richness of my professional and personal life.  I remember a dinner at The Aquarium Restaurant in Hamilton in 1982, with Jeanette and my husband, David.  I told them that I had some good news and some bad news;  first the bad news, I wouldn't be drinking any wine that night, ... and second, I was pregnant!  Jeanette bought Gwenneth her  first toy as soon as she heard: ' Long Arms'.  I believe Gwen still has him with her.  Jeanette has been a part of my life for over 40 years, we have shared personal and professional trials and successes, I was privileged to be part of her ‘Healing Team’.  She will always be part of my life.  I loved her."

From: Rhonda, Arthur, and Melissa Shlanger
"On behalf of my entire family, I wanted to extend my deepest condolences to an amazing human being, who tirelessly worked on finding the mysteries of Autism.  Jeanette would often provide us with kind words of encouragement that gave us strength regarding our daughter, Melissa.  We would often share Melissa's achievements with Jeanette, and she would be so positive and truly happy for our daughter's strengths.  Jeanette was admired and we have heard her briliant talks in the field of Autism.  I know that my family will miss her dearly."

From: Peter Siu, Vancouver, BC
"It is a hugh loss. She had contributed greatly to the understanding of Autism. We need to continue her mission. Hopefully, the barrier between the general public and people with autism would be lifted in the near future."

From: Diane J. Allingham-Hawkins, PhD, FCCMG, FACMG, Director, Genetic Test Evaluation Program, Hayes, Inc.
"As she was to so many others, Jeanette was both a mentor and a friend to me. I also had the great privilege of having her as the external examiner for my PhD defence in which she was kind and fair. We subsequently interacted through the International Fragile X and XLMR workshops and I was honoured to help her organize one in Picton, ON in 1997. I will miss her boundless enthusiasm and joie de vivre. I send my sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues."

From: Edward Thomas
"I am saddened to learn of Jeanette's passing, but am also extremely grateful for the opportunity to have met her and worked with her. Jeanette's passion, enthusiasm, energy and deep sense of commitment made a lasting impression on me. It is my hope that pride in Jeanette's incredible life and legacy will help family and friends cope with this difficult loss."

From: Paula Diakiw, Mother of 3
"Oh, I am so sorry, for Jeanette's family, for her team, for all of us."

From: M. Nawaz

"I was deeply saddened to hear of Dr. Jeanette Holden loss because she was a big hope for people like us. Let her soul rest in PEACE in the feet of ALMIGHTY."

From: Tracey Hutchinson,
"Thank you for letting us know, not only about her passing but reminding us of just how remarkable Jeanette was. she truly changed the world during her time in it and going forward. With thanks to her family for sharing her with us and peace everlasting."

From: Dianne Hudson
"I just wanted to share the sadness I feel with the loss of Jeanette. I met her and her brother Jim while I was a placement student with Ongwanada. When I met them I could see and feel her amazing compassion. My youngest son also has a form of autism and through her I participated in some of her studies. She truly was an inspiration and very encouraging. She will be deeply missed. My thoughts are with her mom and brothers. Such a sad time and a huge loss."

From: Wendy Craig, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Queen's University
"Jeanette was a friend and a mentor.  As a young researcher new to Queen’s in 1994, Jeanette mentored and championed me in some many different ways.  I feel her influence on each grant I submit and each review that I write.  I am grateful for her friendship, her generous spirit, and her research that has been transformational.  My deepest sympathies go to her family at this very sad time."

From: Marlene Breitenbach, MSEd, BCBA, Special Education Autism Coordinator, Dept. Education and Early Childhood Development, Charlottetown, PEI
"Jeannette's contributions will continue to benefit families affected by autism in the years to come. Her leadership and dedication to this work were an inspiration and helped us all feel a part of a learning and teaching community. We have much to be grateful for because of her. Sincere condolences to Jeannette's family."

From: Brenda Deskin, mother, Founder & Principal,
"I was so saddened to hear of Dr. Holden's passing. While I never had the opportunity to meet her in person, she holds a very special place in my heart. About fourteen years ago, this brilliant researcher and advocate extraordinaire made time in her extraordinarily busy schedule to talk to a parent who was struggling with her son's recent diagnosis. I was that parent, although knowing how kind and generous a person she was, I am sure there were many, many more like me whom she opened her heart to. In our lengthy phone conversation, she recalled how her adult brother had just recently been out shopping with their mother and for the first time ever, expressed an interest in a shirt he wanted to buy. She explained that he had never before shown any interest whatsoever in shopping or what he wanted to wear. This story really stuck with me. As the parent of a child with autism who at that point was about three or four years old and seemingly completely oblivious to the world around him, I felt that something like this would be inconceivable to expect of my son - ever. Until I spoke with her, that is. This little anecdote really gave me some hope.

My son is now seventeen years old - which I can't believe! While he faces many challenges due to his autism, we see improvement in his language, understanding and behaviour with every passing day. He too is doing things I never would have imagined. While none of these accomplishments would have been possible without the huge investment of time, money, patience and energy on the part of our entire family, it is so nice to have these amazing moments that make it all worth while. I will always be grateful to Dr. Holden for sharing one of her special moments with me."

From: Angelika J. Dawson, PhD, FCCMG, University of Manitoba

"Jeanette and I are friends from Queen’s biology from a long time ago and got together only at the CCMG meetings she went to in the recent past.  She helped me through my master’s at Queen’s and the genetic 201 course that I was lab coordinator for after my defense.  I have a lot of funny Jeanette stories from the old Queen’s days and our trip to London ON!!  I was always in awe that she was Suzuki’s grad student!  I did not know her mother or brothers, but please convey my very deepest regrets to them. Please let them know that I thought really highly of Jeanette and have many fond memories of her…she made a lot of people laugh and smile. I have never been able to look at either a fruit fly, a can of ether, or a menthol cigarette without thinking of Jeanette."

From: Shiny Tharayil, research family
"I am deeply saddened by the loss of Dr.Holden and it feels very personal a loss. As a parent of a child with Autism, Dr.Holden had enabled me to be part of her research and thus letting me contribute my time and experiences with my son to a very noble cause that is personal and close to my heart. I hope that the research program that she founded will be inspired by her and continue to pursue its goals. My sincere condolenses to her family, especially her brother, Jim."

From: George M. Anderson, Yale School of Medicine
"Jeanette’s sweetness, honesty, and dedication made her a wonderful colleague and an inspiration. I will miss her dearly and send my condolences to all who knew her and are feeling the sadness of her departing."

From: Rachel Leung, former undergraduate summer student
""I will always remember Jeanette as one of the most inspiring and passionate people I’ve ever met. I had the great opportunity to work with her in my undergraduate years and she was an exceptional mentor, always welcoming and enthusiastic about her work. She really inspired me in my choice to pursue research in the field of autism and I am sure I will continue to feel her influence in my career for years to come. She will be greatly missed. My deepest condolences to her family."

From: Ikuko Teshima, PhD, FCCMG, FACMG emeritus, Toronto
"I was saddened to hear of Dr. Jeanette Holden’s passing yesterday.  I had hoped to see her this spring at the Great Lakes Chromosome Conference.  I have known Jeanette from the beginning of my career as a cytogeneticist in 1980.  Jeanette was extraordinary: an accomplished scientist and a kind, gracious person. Her passionate and inspiring leadership in Fragile X and autism research has guided us.  She was a luminous angel.  My condolences to Jeanette’s mother and her brothers."

From: Monique Brooks
"I'm sure she will be missed by the medical community as well as her family, since she was so dedicated to autism research.  You have my deepest sympathy."

From: Jessica Ward-King, PhD, ASD-CARC Post-Doctoral Fellow 2009-2010
"Jeanette was many things to many people: mentor, cheerleader, friend, colleague, inspiration, role model... To me she was all of these and more, but most of all Jeanette Holden was persistence.  For her there was no "dead end", there was simply another challenge that needed to be thought around.  Where there is a will, there is a way. In life, Jeanette was always a very visible and un-ignorable example of the will to keep working towards making life for those affected by ASDs better.  None of us can hope to replace her, but may we strive to, together, fill the void of passion left by her passing.  Let us continue to insist that we have the will so that together, we may find a way."

From: Michèle Mazzocco,Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Baltimore, Maryland
"I am stunned and saddened to learn of Jeanette's passing, and send my sincere condolences to her family, colleagues, and many friends. I first met Jeanette on the corner of two cobble-stoned streets in France, across from the train station at which we had both just arrived en route to a genetics conference.  As a postdoctoral fellow at the time, for me the most significant outcome of that meeting was that it was there that Jeanette and I began a friendship that would last 20 years. It was apparent then - and always -- that Jeanette approached all aspects of life with the same enthusiasm and drive that characterized her life's work. As an extraordinarily productive scientist and advocate, Jeanette also embraced the joys of daily life  -- her gardens, her cats, her embroidery work, and -- luckily for many -- her family and friends. She will be deeply missed by so many persons whose lives were made better because of Jeanette."

From: Claudia Ciamarone
"I am deeply sorry for everyone's loss."

From: Janet Culliton, mother of Grace Culliton, an individual affected by autism, and also an award-winning artist

"As the mother of a daughter with autism, more on the severe side of the spectrum, Jeanette once told me something that I found hugely inspirational - that when you step back and look at the population on the spectrum - their appreciation of beauty, balance and harmony; their connection to nature; their heightened senses, their lack of concern for materialism; their gifts in art, music, computer science, and so many other things; their sense of justice - that if you could have all these qualities without also having the difficulties faced by individuals with ASD, wouldn't we all wish to be more like them? Maybe, (Jeanette said) autism is nature's way of trying to evolve our species to the next level, and seen in this light, our special kids may be brave pioneers for human kind, helping evolution in the process of making humanity better ...  To hear this from a GENETICIST made such an impact on me, but it was classic Jeanette - she brought so much love and positive energy with her into her work, and challenged people to always look for the good, and keep hope for the future. Our family is so saddened by the loss of Jeanette in this world. We also were blessed to have a 2nd daughter who was the proud recipient of a Jeanette Holden Scholarship. Thank you Jeanette for walking alongside us in our journey. We'll miss you! God bless you on your next adventure!"

From: Jane Yip, PhD
"I met Jeanette at the Think Tank meeting in Boston and was inspired by her personal touch to the autism problem, showing videos of her brother who has autism.  By telling the story of her brother, Jeanette showed me that science could be approached with a passion to understand the person - who is more than a disordered brain and genetics.  If not for Jeanette who related to me as a person- regardless of my rank- I would have lost hope.  Jeanette inspired me to continue in autism research and to serve the families battling with difficult children.  Thank you for bringing meaning not only to a research topic but to a way of life.  Jeanette will always be remembered as a Scientist with a humane mission to me.  As I grow my business, I would like to regularly contribute funds to further the mission she has started.  Please keep me posted."

From: Lisa Morriss-Andrews and David Andrews, Kingston, ON
"I met Jeanette when she lived across the hall from us on Balaclava St. in Kingston. Not only was she a wonderful neighbour, she also, out of the goodness of her heart, mentored me through my MA degree from Queen's. She read and edited my thesis, provided unbelievable support and encouragement at a very difficult time in my life. And I was not even in her department! Truly she was someone who believed in people, in education, in giving with no expectation of returns. I have never forgotten her generosity - we have all lost a great friend and mentor!

I also had the enormous pleasure of talking to her when Jim first learned to communicate verbally because by interacting with the computer. I do not know who was more excited - Jeanette or Jim.  She was ecstatic to discover that a 'sparrow in medicine', as they say, had kept him from speaking to others for so many years. I cannot imagine Jeanette's family's loss - especially Jim's - or the countless others who have known or studied with Jeanette or been the beneficiary of all she had to offer so selflessly. She will not be forgotten. My husband and I were very grateful to have known her."

From: Anita Acheson, Parent Advisory Committee ASD-CARC
"Jeanette was a longtime friend, mentor and kindred spirit to me.  I do not want to think of the world without her in it.  She had a dedication, enthusiasm and excitement for discovery like no one else I know.  Jeanette's powerful belief in the potential of every person with autism was inspirational.  She truly cared about all the families she worked with.  It was my honour to work with Jeanette leading the Parent Advisory Committee because I knew how much she valued families' experiences and opinions.  Her mother and brother were such inspirations for her work and gave such meaning to her life. To paraphrase Isaac Newton: scientific discoveries are made on the shoulders of giants.  Jeanette was our giant.  We will honour her by continuing to further the research that was so important in both her professional and personal life."

From: Antonio M. Persico, M.D., Assoc. Prof. in Child Neuropsychiatry, PRABB-Lab. of Molecular Psychiatry & Neurogenetics, University "Campus Bio-Medico", Italy
"I am profoundly saddened by your news on Jeanette. You are right, she was a remarkable person and a remarkable scientist. We had the pleasure to receive her visit in Rome two years ago, just before her relapse was diagnosed. Everyone in my lab has very fond memories of the days she spent with us, including my wife and son who also had the pleasure to meet Jeanette and to share with her a couple of dinners in the city and at our home.  I am certain she will be deeply missed by her dear ones, her co-workers and collaborators, the entire autism community.

She will be very much present in my thoughts and in my prayers (with regard to the latter, she would smile if she knew I was going to say this, but during her visit it was fun to share views with her not just on science but also on life altogether...). And I also would like to thank you very much for informing me promptly and for keeping me on the "friends" mailing list of ASD-CARC. I hope we'll continue interacting constructively for the sake of science and of autistic individuals. I am sure Jeanette would want it this way. A hug to you all."

From: Dickie CT Yu, PhD, CPsych, Professor of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Director, St.Amant Research Centre

"We have lost a tireless champion for autism, a visionary leader, a brilliant scientist, and a dedicated educator. She was a mentor and model for numerous students and colleagues through the autism research consortium she created and an inspiration to us all. Remembering Jeanette, a dear colleague and friend."

From: Elspeth Bradley, PhD, FRCPC, FRC Psych, Surrey Place Centre and the University of Toronto
“Thank you Jeanette for all you have shared with so many.  You will be forever in our hearts and minds propelling us forward with your inspiration, courage, integrity and compassion.   In recent years the beauty of the earth unfolded at our fingertips on line – precious moments.”

From: Jay Shinda
"So sad to hear this news. Sincere condolences to the family. The autism community has lost a champion and a devoted person. Still can't believe this."

From: John Mitchell, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
"I would like to express my deep sorrow at the passing of dear Jeanette and extend my sincere consolations to her mother, brothers and other relatives and close colleagues of hers. She will be missed by very many in both the field of science as well as the community and lets hope her terrific optimism in face of such adversity can inspire us all to do that little bit better."

From: Kathy Roberts
"This is such sad news.  It was an honor to know Dr Holden, and to share our very personal connections over the years. She brought her heart to her science. Her love and dedication to her brother benefited so many.My daughter Jenny made her a vase during her first hospitalization, and she shared with me recently that she brought that vase to the hospital every time since. I'm sure it was never empty."

From: Christie Riddell
"Her passing is a loss. She was an amazing character, and I will always remember her as someone who had more life energy than seemed possible to fit into one person, and as someone who substantially helped my PhD throughout my degree, but especially towards the end stages. Needless to say, I will also remember her more colourful moments with especially fond embellishments!!"

From: Yona Lunsky
"Jeanette had such a passion for this field of research and for all families of people with developmental disabilities. I met Jeanette as a graduate student and was very much impacted by how she blended her professional pursuits with her own family experience. As a new researcher, I learned from Jeanette and benefited from her wisdom about how to write a grant, and how to conduct research that is really important and helps families. She was a visionary and a true leader in our field."

From: Elizabeth Mickelson, Developmental Pediatrician, Vancouver, BC
"Jeanette was a special and unique individual who could marry the rigor of science with the compassion and advocacy for those individuals with developmental disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorders. It was a privilege to have met her and, for a time, to have been part of the diverse consortium she established. Sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. Her legacy is invaluable."

From: Joanna Northover, M.Sc.
"As a recipient of the Jeanette Holden Scholarship for Siblings of Children with ASD, I was given a kick start to begin my university studies because of Jeanette.  However, the true gift Jeanette gave to me to me was her wonderful friendship with my family, especially my mother and brother.  She took such a genuine interest in everyone she knew, and even though our meetings were sometimes far between her enthusiasm to hear everything I had been up to made me feel so very fortunate to know her.  I will never forget how encouraging she was when I received my Master's degree. Most of all I will remember the positiveness and strength that she brought to every challenge.  She was a very great lady and her accomplishments and work was so important.  I am so lucky to have known her, even just a little."

From: Janet Yee, MSc, PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Trent University
"I am very sad to hear of Jeanette's death. She was my M.Sc. thesis supervisor when I was at Queen's University.  I will always remember Jeannette as a brilliant scientist with a big, warm and generous heart.  I offer my deepest condolences to Jeanette’s family, friends and colleagues."

From: Natalie Carreiro
"There's another angel in heaven tonight... but her legacy will live on."

From: Elizabeth Rose Beaudry

"So sorry to hear :(. My condolences to the family and my sincerest gratitude for her dedication to a cause we are all behind. Much love, R.I.P"

From: Barb Darwin
"She shed a light for me when things seemed dark and hopeless... a true inspiration!"

From: Jennifer Cochrane Rogers
"What a devestating loss to the ASD community. RIP Jeanette."

From: Lorrie Gruber
"She was a wonderful, vibrant person who gave so much to others. She will be greatly missed."

From: Gina Fernetich-Chiddle

"What a vibrant woman and lovely soul who was dedicated to many things in her life; family, career and her own fight to be healthy. I had the pleasure of working alongside her in quest to be well and it was always my pleasure to be a part of that journey. Another true treasure lost. RIP, Jeanette."

From: Daryl Waggot
"I am deeply saddened. The power of Jeanette's vision to help others has had an enduring influence on me as a person. This infectious ability to open the eyes of those around her to both truth and our own potential to make change was a gift, to us. Thank you."


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