02/11/2013 12:54 EST | Updated 04/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Pioneering UBC professor Clyde Hertzman dies

The death of world-renowned UBC professor Clyde Hertzman is spurring messages of support from around the world.

Hertzman died suddenly this weekend at the age of 59 in London of unknown causes. He was regarded internationally as a pioneer in the field of early development and as an advocate of social equality.

Hertzman's research proved that being disadvantaged as a child can have significant effects on lifelong health, according to his colleague, Joanne Schroeder at UBC's Human Early Learning Partnership.

Schroeder says Hertzman was "scientifically brilliant," but was also known for being very down to earth.

"What I admired about him most of all was that he knew that if we were really going to realize social change, it took a lot more than just — as he would have called them — pointy-headed academics, but that it was really about involving people in the community," she said.

Just last month Hertzman was given the Order of Canada for his research. Premier Christy Clark issued a statement, calling him an "inspiration" and a "leader whose shoes can never be filled."