I hope you have all been able to enjoy some summer vacation and time spent with family and friends in our beautiful part of the country. It feels good to know that many Nova Scotians have already received (or will be receiving soon) their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, allowing us to travel around more freely and regain a sense of normalcy in our everyday routines.
I would like to extend my congratulations to Premier Tim Houston and the Progressive Conservative government in Nova Scotia on a successful election campaign. With a focus on improving health care in the province, I look forward to meeting with members of government to discuss the role Dalhousie Medical School can play to address this important issue.
I am delighted to welcome our new learners to medical school and a huge “welcome back!” to our returning students. After a long time working remotely, I look forward to seeing everyone on campus. Please stop and say hello.
Many around the world celebrate Pride Month in June, but here in Nova Scotia and at Dalhousie we celebrate our LGBTQ2SIA+ communities in July and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and health and safety, Pride Month was commemorated in Halifax in August this year. At Dalhousie Medical School, we encourage our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and administrators to pause, celebrate and reenergize. The full acceptance, safety, and practice of inclusiveness for our LGBTQ2SIA+ community is critical to all our successes.
On September 30, Dalhousie Medical School will join the Dalhousie community and the rest of the country in observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a day for remembrance and reflection and to honour survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities.
We will share details about local community events and other opportunities to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation closer to the date. I hope all students, faculty, and staff use this time to learn and reflect on the history, culture, and lived experiences of Indigenous peoples.
Faculty of Medicine Return to Campus Update
As faculty, students, and staff prepare to return to campus, there are understandably questions on health and safety guidelines and protocols. Recently, Dalhousie University announced their plans to prioritize our collective safety and well-being as many of us return to campus. These updated requirements include:
- Students, faculty, and staff will be asked to provide proof of their vaccination status prior to accessing university campuses.
- Students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated, or choose not to provide proof of vaccination, will have to undergo COVID-19 testing twice a week and will be required to provide proof that the testing has taken place. (Testing will also continue to be encouraged for fully vaccinated individuals.)
As well, Horizon Health has shared more information regarding vaccination and testing requirements that will apply to all physicians and medical learners studying at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick.
This is a complex issue, and the university continues to work to finalize the details of how these vaccine requirements will be implemented and operationalized. The Faculty of Medicine supports these updates to vaccination and testing. We will continue to work with Dalhousie University to ensure our faculty, students, and staff are in compliance with this directive. Dalhousie has also addressed many of the key questions being asked in their recent announcement and revised FAQ. Faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to carefully review the memo and links, the Dalhousie fall return plan, the PSE/LAE framework, and Dalhousie’s COVID-19 information page before returning to campus.
Dean’s Welcome Ceremony
On August 22nd, we held our annual Dean’s Welcome Ceremony to welcome our first-year med students to Dalhousie Medical School and to the practice of medicine. In case you missed it, a video of the ceremony can be found online. I would like to thank our hard-working team in the Student Affairs office, in particular Ms. Sharon Forward and Ms. Carolyn Doyle, for putting together a successful welcome to our incoming Class of 2025.
During ceremony, we listened to the Drummers from Home and were welcomed by Ms. Catherine Martin who greeted us with the Mi’kmaw Welcome before students collectively read their code of conduct and listened to the Hippocratic Oath, setting the stage for the next four years of intense medical education and the career in medicine that will follow.
To all our students, new and returning, I wish you the best of luck with your studies.
Welcoming New Residents
As some residents were wrapping up their training at Dalhousie, we welcomed a new group of 173 residents on July 1st. This is an exciting time for our new postgrad trainees, and I encourage them to take full advantage of their educational experiences – including getting involved in teaching of our medical students, who will benefit from their experience and wisdom. I want to thank our residents, program directors and staff at Dalhousie, as well as the Maritime health authorities, for creating a seamless start to residency training.
Earlier this year, Canada’s House of Commons voted unanimously to designate August 1, 2021, as Emancipation Day. The longstanding history of racial harassment and discrimination in the Maritime Provinces is well documented, and the COVID-19 pandemic further exposes how systemic racism has caused health inequities that are harming Black people and communities.
The Faculty of Medicine is committed to using our platform and resources to create an all-inclusive and welcoming place to work and learn. Placing the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies within the Faculty of Medicine was an important step to strengthening the Faculty of Medicine’s priority of enhancing diversity and fostering community outreach – but there is much more to be done. Focusing on diversity, equity, community representation, and disrupting racism and colonialism in all its forms will lead to improved and more inclusive health care for all. It will also result in a better educational experience for our learners.
Carrying forward the momentum and successes of #DalMedForward, work has already begun on our new strategic plan. It is incredibly exciting to see what we can achieve as a team and I look forward to supporting further achievements in our three strategic pillars: Education, Research, and Serving and Engaging Society. This will be a collaborative effort and the engagement and support of the medical school community will be critical to the success of our planning. I encourage all faculty, staff, and students to participate. With your help, we look forward to continuing the tradition of training medical professionals with a commitment to lifelong learning, excellence in patient care, high ethical standards, and accountability to communities we serve.
Nova Scotia Standing Committee on Health
In July, I, alongside Dr. Kath Stringer, Head of the Department of Family Medicine, and Dr. Roop Conyers, Site Director of the Annapolis Valley Training site, as well as our colleagues from Nova Scotia Health, had the pleasure of speaking to Nova Scotia’s Standing Committee on Health regarding Dalhousie Medical School’s role in recruiting and training medical students in rural Nova Scotia. We rely on the excellent collaboration and support of our partners to train physicians, and this was a great opportunity to share with the committee the actions Dalhousie Medical School has undertaken to train medical students to meet the needs of rural areas, including producing physicians that reflect the diversity of our region and meeting the health care needs of the Maritimes.
2021 Clinical Research Mentorship Colloquium
I am pleased to announce the launch of the Clinical Research Mentorship Colloquium. This is a new program created to provide expertise and training support to early career clinical researchers to take a clinical question and design a research project.
Models for merging patient care and research are growing in number and sophistication around the globe and being further recognized and solidified as an integral part of the research success at research-intensive institutions. Inherent in the integrated approach to research is the need to combine clinical medical practice and clinical research. This program is a partnership between the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University, NS Health and the IWK who collectively recognize that the path to continued success in the area of clinical research is through continued collaboration.
I am excited to see the contributions to research which will be borne via this program, and I encourage all early career clinical researchers to get involved. Any questions can be directed to Sara Lavender, Director of the Medical Research Development Office at email@example.com.
Appointment of Dr. Paola Marcato, Interim Assistant Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
On behalf of the Faculty of Medicine, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Paola Marcato has been appointed Interim Assistant Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Dr. Marcato’s appointment is effective September 1, 2021.
Dr. Marcato obtained her PhD in Medical Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Alberta in 2004. Dr. Marcato went on to complete postdoctoral training on cancer research with Dr. Patrick Lee at Dalhousie University. In 2012, Dr. Marcato joined the Department of Pathology as an Assistant Professor and started a breast cancer research laboratory. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018. Dr. Marcato has an active CIHR-funded cancer research program with four graduate students, three postdoctoral fellows, and a research technician. The research projects in Dr. Marcato’s laboratory have the long-term goal of developing improved therapeutic strategies for breast cancer.
Since becoming a faculty member at Dalhousie in 2012, Dr. Marcato has been actively involved in graduate student training, supervising 14 graduate students, serving on the graduate student supervisory committees of over 30 students, and serving as the Department of Pathology’s Graduate Coordinator since 2020. Dr. Marcato’s commitment to trainee mentorship was recognized in 2021 by being awarded the inaugural Faculty of Medicine Award for Excellence in Research Mentorship of Trainees. As the Interim Assistant Dean Graduate and Postdoctoral studies, Dr. Marcato will represent the interests and perspectives of graduate and postdoctoral fellows in the Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Marcato is replacing Dr. Valerie Chappe, who has been seconded to the position of Associate Dean in the Faculty of Graduate Studies for Dalhousie University. The Faculty of Medicine thanks Dr. Chappe for her leadership in her previous role as the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Medicine over the past three years.
Appointment of Dr. Janie Wilson, Director, School of Biomedical Engineering
On behalf of the Faculties of Engineering and Medicine, Dr. John Newhook, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, and I are pleased to announce that Dr. Janie Wilson has been appointed Director, School of Biomedical Engineering, for a five-year term. This appointment is effective September 1, 2021.
Dr. Wilson has recently returned to Dalhousie as a Professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering after three years at McMaster University (2018-2021), where she was a Professor in the Department of Surgery with cross appointments in biomedical and mechanical engineering and ran an interdisciplinary research program in translational clinical biomechanics for orthopaedic surgery and healthy mobility and aging. Dr. Wilson’s expertise is in biomechanics and statistical modeling for human movement, and the integration of technology into clinical outcomes for musculoskeletal disease and orthopaedic surgery.
She will continue to build her collaborative research program at Dalhousie in the fields of osteoarthritis biomechanics, orthopaedic surgical innovation, and mobility for healthy aging. Dr. Wilson is the current President of the Canadian Society for Biomechanics and a Past President of the Canadian Orthopaedic Research Society.
The School of Biomedical Engineering at Dalhousie University was established in 1999 as a collaborative effort of the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Engineering, and with significant assistance from the Faculty of Dentistry. We would like to thank Dr. Geoffrey Maksym for his two terms of dedicated service as Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering.
Reappointment of Dr. Sarah Wells, Assistant Dean, Medical Sciences
On behalf of the Faculties of Medicine, I, alongside of Dr. Chris Moore, Dean, Faculty of Science, am pleased to announce that Dr. Sarah Wells has been reappointed Assistant Dean, Medical Sciences, for a five-year term. This appointment is effective July 1, 2021.
Dr. Wells has served as Assistant Dean, overseeing the Medical Sciences BSc program since 2016. The Medical Sciences program at Dalhousie is unique, and the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada. It connects the Faculties of Medicine, Science, and Arts & Social Sciences, offering graduates the opportunity to explore a wide range of subjects and builds the foundation that medical schools, and many other health-related professional programs across Canada require.
Dr. Wells is an Associate Professor at Dalhousie University in the School of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Physics & Atmospheric Science with a cross-appointment in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics.
President’s Research Excellence Awards
Established in 2018, these awards recognize the research achievements of Dalhousie faculty members. The award for Emerging Investigators recognizes early-career researchers (within seven years of their first academic appointment) who have demonstrated a high level of achievement in their field, while the award for Impact celebrates researchers at any career stage who are having substantial, current impact on their field of research. Congratulations to the follow individuals from the Faculty of Medicine:
- Dr. Jeanette Boudreau, Emerging Investigator Award
- Dr. Leah Cahill, Emerging Investigator Award
- Dr. Shashi Gujar, Emerging Investigator Award
- Dr. David Kelvin, Research Impact Award
For more information on individual award winners, please click here.
Faculty of Medicine Resident Research Awards
The Resident Research Awards are presented to residents who have demonstrated excellence in research and to honor and publicly recognize their achievements. Presentation of these awards also aims to encourage participation in research activities. Each department submitted a nominee based on the Best Resident Research project winner(s) from their departmental research days. The abstracts were then being reviewed by a panel of expert researchers who determined this year’s award winners:
- Dr. Jasmine Mah, Best Overall Award
- Dr. Abraham Nunes, Best Work in Clinical Research
- Dr. Erdit Celo, Best Work in Fundamental Science
- Dr. Ahmed Mokhtar, Best Research Award for a senior resident (PGY3 or PGY4+)
- Dr. Robert Dunfield, Best Research Award for a junior resident (PGY1 or PGY2)
Congratulations to all the 2021 award recipients.
College of Physicians & Surgeons of Nova Scotia Gold-Headed Cane Award
The recipient of the 2021 Dr. G.W. Archibald Gold-headed Cane award in the Humanities is Dr. Thomas F. Baskett, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Individuals are nominated for their notable combination of scholarly attainments in the humanities, humanism, integration of the humanities into their life and profession, and service as an effective role model for others in the medical humanities. Dr. Baskett clearly exemplifies the criteria for the award. He demonstrates evidence of humanistic care and mentorship and has worked in different ways to integrate the humanities into his professional life and has made significant contributions to the literature.
Congratulations to Dr. Baskett!
Canadian Cardiovascular Society Recognition Awards
I am pleased to share that Dr. Martin Gardner, Professor, Division of Cardiology, was recently selected as the 2021 Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) Distinguished Teacher/Mentor Award recipient. This award was created to acknowledge an individual’s excellence in teaching over the long term in any of the cardiovascular fields and recognition of a deep commitment to fostering the professional development of CCS Members or Members-in-Training. A panel of peers selected Dr. Gardner from amongst several worthy nominees to recognize his outstanding contribution to Canadian cardiovascular health and care.
Congratulations, Dr. Gardner!
2021 Meritas Tabaret Award for Alumni Achievement
Congratulations to former Dean of Dalhousie Medical School, Dr. Noni MacDonald, for receiving the 2021 Meritas Tabaret Award for Alumni Achievement from the University of Ottawa. The 2021 Meritas Tabaret Award for Alumni Achievement recognizes an alumna who has distinguished herself professionally, demonstrated leadership in her field and career, contributed to the promotion of the University of Ottawa and exercised a strong positive influence in the community.
An international leader in pediatric infectious disease, development of children’s vaccines and global health research, Dr. Noni MacDonald (MSc ’71, MD ’75) has been a pioneer in the medical community. She was the very first pediatrician to be certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in the emerging field of pediatric infectious disease, in 1983. Dr. MacDonald has over 400 research publications to her name, and her contributions have been recognized through a myriad of prestigious honours. In 2019, she was named an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Nova Scotia.
Congratulations, Dr. MacDonald!
Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Award
I am pleased to announce that Ms. Kathleen MacMillan (MD Candidate, Class of 2023) is this year’s CMHF Award recipient from Dalhousie University. Second year medical students with an established track record of community leadership, superior communication skills and demonstrated interest in advancing knowledge were recognized on August 25, 2021, with the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) Award.
Ms. MacMillan serves as Co-President of the Dalhousie Medicine Class of 2023. A licensed pharmacist who obtained her degree from Dalhousie University, Ms. MacMillan received several awards during pharmacy school, including the Canadian Pharmacists Association Centennial Leadership Award. She currently juggles several responsibilities from leading the Canadian Federation of Medical Students Atlantic Task Force to serving on the Dalhousie Medicine Admissions Committee –as well as positions with the Canadian Association of Radiologists Medical Student Network and various networks within the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada. You can read more about the award and Ms. MacMillan’s accomplishments in Dal Med News.
Dalhousie Professional & Managerial Group (DPMG) Awards
I am very pleased that several Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine members have been recognized by Dalhousie University for their achievements at the Dalhousie Professional & Managerial Group (DPMG) Awards. The DPMG Awards recognize employees who belong to the DPMG for their exemplary contributions to the university. In addition to the regular awards, this year included an award to honour those who have shown excellence in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congratulations to Mr. Paul Bourgeois (COVID-19 Pandemic Award), Ms. Alexandra Fournier (Early Career Award), and the family of the late Mr. Ryan Clow who was awarded posthumously for the 2021 Career Award.
For a list of recipients and their considerable accomplishments, please visit the DPMG Awards website.
DMRF’S 4th Annual Impact Reception
On Tuesday, July 29, the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation hosted its fourth annual Impact Reception – a celebration of our donors and the health research they support. Once again, because of the limitations placed on in-person gatherings due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s event took place virtually. The online event was hosted by Dr. Christine Chambers (Canada Research Chair in Children’s Pain and Professor in the departments of Psychology & Neuroscience and Pediatrics) and featured some fascinating presentations and conversations featuring Dr. Daniel Boyd (Associate Professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering), Dr. OmiSoore Dryden (James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology), and Dr. Gabriela Ilie (Endowed Soillse Research Scientist in Prostate Cancer Quality of Life Research and Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology.) In case you missed it, you can view a recording of the virtual event here.
Dal Med Human Body Donation Program Memorial
On June 25, 2021, the Department of Medical Neuroscience hosted a virtual annual memorial and interment service for Dalhousie University’s Human Body Donation Program, honouring those who contributed to medical education. This emotional yet inspirational service provides an opportunity for Dalhousie students from many health disciplines who work in the anatomical laboratory to express their gratitude for the gift of knowledge bestowed by the donors and their families.
As a graduate of Dalhousie Medical School, I have experienced first-hand the benefit of working with and learning from the human body. The gift of the human body transcends being an educational aid. What is learned in the anatomy lab has a direct impact on patient care in our hospitals and clinics throughout the Maritimes. In this way, a donation becomes, quite literally, the gift of life.
In Memoriam: Dr. Brian Hennen
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Dr. Brian Hennen, a retired faculty member, passed away on August 30, 2021.
Dr. Hennen earned his medical degree in 1962 from Queen’s University and his master’s degree in educational psychology from Michigan State University in 1969. In 1969, he was one of the first 12 physicians to receive the Certification in the College of Family Physicians (CCFP) designation.
Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Hennen served as president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and as chair of the board of the Canadian Council of Health Accreditation. He was the first chair of the Section of Teachers for the College in 1978, and the first recipient of the D.I. Rice Fellowship. During his practice career, Dr. Hennen was a member of the Independent Living Nova Scotia Board and the Eastern representative of CFPC’s national committee on developmental disabilities – one of his key areas of expertise and advocacy.
Dr. Hennen was an influential family physician and academic who made significant contributions to Dalhousie University as professor and head of the family medicine department at Dalhousie University from 1974 to 1987, then professor and chair of family medicine at Western University from 1987 to 1999, before joining the University of Manitoba as dean of medicine. Dr. Hennen sat on the boards of St. Boniface Hospital and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.
He felt strongly that medical schools should be responsive to the concerns of students, residents, and graduate students. “They need to have influence on their learning programs,” he said. “They need to be able to provide feedback . . . and it needs to be listened to.”
In 2014, Dr. Hennen received a Lifetime Achievement in Family Medicine Research Award from the CFPC. The award honours individuals who are trailblazers and leaders, and who have made a significant career contribution to family medicine research.
He will be remembered in the hearts of many who have been helped by his skills, kindness, and selflessness. The Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine and the entire Dalhousie University community extend condolences to Dr. Hennen’s family.
In Memoriam: Dr. Scott Murray
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Dr. Scott Murray, a retired faculty member at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine, passed away on August 28th, 2021.
After graduating in 1980 from Dalhousie Medical School, Dr. Murray went on to practice family medicine in Elora, Ontario. He then returned to Dalhousie to pursue the specialty of Dermatology and completed his studies in 1987 from the University of Ottawa. He practiced Dermatology in Halifax for 34 years and was an Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Clinical Dermatology and Cutaneous Science at Dalhousie University, throughout which he spent many fulfilling years imparting his knowledge and experience. He was an accomplished and astute physician but was best known for his caring approach, his genuine interest in the lives of his patients, his quick wit, and ability to find the humour and joy in all situations.
Dr. Murray was also known for his musical skills, in particular his ability as a pianist. His natural ear and eclectic taste in music led him from classical studies to rock and roll as a member of the doctor group MD5 with whom he took great pleasure in performing for several decades. Unprompted and in great testament to his skill, he often delighted his children with farcical renditions of well-known songs, adding to the incessant rollicks of the household, with him leading the way.
On behalf of Dalhousie University, we extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to Dr. Murray’s family.
A full obituary can be read here.
I wish all of you a wonderful beginning to the new academic year. I look forward to seeing you, virtually or in person, back on campus.