Beloved Montreal neuroscientist dies at 43

Dr. Nadia Chaudhri spent her dying months raising funds for scientists from under-represented backgrounds.

The Canadian Press 2 minute read October 7, 2021
Nadia Chaudhri montreal

Montreal neuroscientist Nadia Chaudhri, who shared her journey with ovarian cancer online, has died. Chaudhri Labs

By: Morgan Lowrie

MONTREAL — Nadia Chaudhri, the Montreal neuroscientist who gained a worldwide following while spending her dying months raising funds for scientists from under-represented backgrounds, has died at age 43.

Concordia University says Chaudhri died on Oct. 5 after a yearlong battle with ovarian cancer.

Chaudhri gained a large Twitter following as she openly shared the highs and lows of her journey with cancer and advocated for improvements to women’s health care and more funding for scientists.

In her final months, for as long as she could, she dressed in fancy clothes and shuffled the length of her palliative care ward to raise money for the Nadia Chaudhri Wingspan Award, which will provide scholarships to young scientists who face hardship due to issues like racism, sexism or geographic origin.

Chaudhri was born in 1978 in Pakistan and studied in the United States before joining Concordia as an assistant professor in 2010.

One of her last Twitter threads detailed the symptoms she experienced during her treatment for ovarian cancer, and she urged women to seek immediate help if they feel something is wrong.

“Know your bodies,” she wrote. “Pay attention to fatigue and changes in bowel/urinary tract movements. Make sure you understand all the words on a medical report. Do not dismiss your pain or malaise.”

Chaudhri’s posts on Twitter ranged from heartbreaking — including one in which she described preparing to tell her son she was dying — to funny.

Often, she shared information on cancer screening clinics and other women’s health initiatives. In one of her later messages, she said she wasn’t afraid to die.

“Although this has been the most frightening time of my life it has been filled with brightness and love,” she wrote.

In a statement, Concordia president Graham Carr called Chaudhri a “force of nature.”

“She was an incredibly talented researcher with a passion for teaching and student success matched only by her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Carr said.

“She enriched us. Our entire community grieves her death and offers deeply heartfelt condolences to her son, Reza, and husband, Moni — whom she lovingly called her Sun and Moon — her family, friends, colleagues and the thousands of supporters to the Nadia Chaudhri Wingspan Award who embraced her cause.”

Concordia said it would lower its flags to half-mast today in Chaudhri’s honour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2021.