About Dmitry Apel
Dmitry Apel was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1984. He emigrated to Canada in 1990 with his parents, younger sister, and maternal grandparents, and settled in Edmonton, AB, subsequently moving to Calgary in 1998. From a very early age, Dmitry showed himself to be an extremely intelligent, inquisitive and good-natured person, a natural leader and an extravert. He excelled academically as well as in sports. Being a good looking, witty and popular child didn’t preclude Dmitry from also being compassionate and caring towards his family and friends.
At the age of 13 Dmitry developed an unusual connective tissue syndrome, which went undiagnosed in spite of the family’s extensive efforts to pursue medical treatment. Becoming ill at such an early age didn’t stop Dmitry from living his life, staying active, becoming an avid snowboarder, and graduating from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor and then Master of Science Degree in Microbiology. He was routinely overcoming obstacles, which would make a lesser person dispirited and self-pitying, without complaints or blame. His strength of character was nothing short of remarkable.
Dmitry’s financial needs were always very modest; he couldn’t stand wastefulness and excess. Also by the time of Dmitry’s post-secondary studies, the financial standing of this immigrant family has improved enough for him not to worry about money. That didn’t make him oblivious to the needs of his classmates and co-workers. There are multiple reports of Dmitry helping people around him financially, often anonymously and mostly without an expectation of repayment.
While working on his PhD at the UBC, Dmitry’s health took a turn for the worse. He developed a very aggressive form of squamous cell skin cancer and passed away on March 10, 2013 at the age of 28. To his last day Dmitry was maintaining contact with friends around the country, being keenly interested in their life and work, careful not to burden anyone with his bad news, but cheering everyone on, as always being primarily concerned with the impact his illness might have on the people around him, his family and friends. A true gentleman, in spite of terrific discomfort he maintained good humour, concern for others, and courage in adversity.
Dmitry’s attitude towards scientific research reflected his passionate belief in the benefit of the fundamental quest for Knowledge. He further believed that the practical applicability of Knowledge shouldn’t be prejudged, used for setting priorities, or assessing financial merits. Designing a scholarship to support postgraduate students in Microbiology and Immunology was consistent with the attitudes Dmitry has exhibited throughout his life giving pleasure during his last weeks of pain and suffering. He was able to select the recipients of the first year’s award himself.
The outpouring of emails from around the country from people who worked closely with Dmitry Apel during his Bachelor, Master and doctorate studies was nothing short of overwhelming. Person after person has reported being influenced and supported by him credited him with major impact on their scientific and personal lives. You can read some of these emails here.
A scientist of remarkable intelligence, unshakable integrity and huge working capacity, Dmitry left behind a body of research, which is being used in further scientific research already, here and in the U.S. In recognition of his achievements he was made a Philosophy Doctor in Microbiology. His posthumous convocation ceremony quote was:
“Dr. Dmitry Apel studied a bacterium called Campylobacter Jejuni, which causes severe food poisoning. By exploring the ways in which the bacterium senses and responds to different environmental conditions, his research provided key insights into how this prevalent pathogen survives inside animal hosts and causes disease in humans.” (May 2013)
A short, remarkable life worth remembering.