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A University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine Publication


Spring 2013

Profiling a pathologist

When Dr. Jennifer Chan began medical school, she knew very little about what pathology was. What she did know came from watching television shows such as Quincy as a kid.

Putting the rural in rural medicine

Looking back to help look forward

Giving students and residents a first-hand glimpse of what rural medicine is really like

Exploring the early detection of mood disorders in youth




SPRING 2013 Issue

F e at u r e s

Volume 5 | Issue 1

MEDICINE UCalgary Medicine is published twice a year by the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, providing news and information for and about our faculty, staff, alumni, students, friends and community. For more information contact: M anaging Edito r

Kathryn Sloniowski T 403.220.2232 E Edito ria l T eam

Jordanna Heller, Director, Communications and Media Relations Marta Cyperling, Manager, Media Relations Amy Dowd, Manager, Internal Relations Amanda Fisher, Communications Coordinator Aisling Gamble, Communications Advisor, Events and Recognition


Putting the rural in rural medicine 6


Dr. Jon Meddings

Looking back to help look forward 12

V ice- Dean

Dr. Glenda MacQueen

S eni o r A ss o ciate Deans

Dr. Gerald Zamponi, Research Dr. Jocelyn Lockyer, Education Dr. Ronald Bridges, Faculty Affairs

On the c over

A ss o ciate Deans

A slide of a tissue sample.

Dr. Anthony Schryvers, Undergraduate Science Education Dr. Bruce Wright, Undergraduate Medical Education Dr. Jennifer Hatfield, Global Health and International Partnerships Dr. Doug L. Myhre, Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives Dr. Maureen Topps, Postgraduate Medical Education Dr. Frans A. van der Hoorn, Graduate Science Education Dr. Lara Cooke, Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development Dr. John Reynolds, Basic Research Dr. Michael Hill, Clinical Trials Dr. Janet de Groot, Equity and Professionalism Dr. Kamala Patel, Faculty Development Dr. Samuel Wiebe, Clinical Research Design

COMBINE Design & Communications Ph oto graph y and Illustrati o ns ©, ©, ©, Carlos Amat, Bell Media, Riley Brandt,

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Bridging the gap 3 In the community 22 Phil anthropy

 hen Dr. Jennifer Chan began medical school, she knew very little W about what pathology was. What she did know came from watching television shows such as Quincy as a kid.

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Profiling a pathologist 18

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The Faculty of Medicine is committed to staying in touch with our alumni. Please update your contact information at our website

Message from the Dean

Exploring the early detection of mood disorders in youth

Service to Socie t y

D e pa r t m e n t s

The way to personalized medicine 4 Research

Researching the walkability of neighbourhoods 10 What is a stem cell? 14 Education

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University of Calgary’s global health program increases research capacity in Ethiopia 16 News

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In the news 23 Good reads 26 Awards and recognition 28 Alumni

And the Alumnus of Distinction Award goes to... 29

Message from t he De an

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Bridging the gap

Message from the Dean

I’d like to begin by welcoming everyone to our new volume of UCalgary Medicine. countless interesting stories we have coming from the Faculty, you’ll notice that our new magazine has increased in page count. We look forward to sharing this new and improved magazine with you, which you can now expect twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. Here at the Faculty of Medicine we are very proud of the achievements of our faculty members, staff and students, and we’re especially proud when these achievements lead to external recognition and accolades. This past year, we’ve had a number of high-profile award recipients, including: David Proud and Hans Vogel, who were elected as fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, Merril Knudtson who was named a Member of the Order of Canada, Stemming from the

and Brenda Hemmelgarn, Todd Anderson and Subrata Ghosh, who were all inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. We’re a relatively young Faculty so having this many recipients of some of Canada’s top awards demonstrates that we are truly coming of age. In line with our research priorities, and key to the Eyes High strategic direction initiative set forth by the university, the Faculty is making progress in the development of our new Unit for Clinical Analytics and Research Support (UCARS). The unit, which we anticipate will be able to offer initial services later this year, will provide researchers with access to research data acquisition, management and analytics, opportunities for collaboration and education in clinical research, and will allow them to access



resources such as assistance with methodological and statistical support, and study design. UCARS will also streamline the process of implementing clinical research projects of all types, subsequently giving our community even better access to the most forward thinking, cutting-edge health care. UCARS is modeled after the Clinical Research Unit at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, which was founded by Samuel Wiebe six years ago. The Clinical Research Unit has been very successful in implementing clinical research for brain and mental health issues and we anticipate the same successes more widely with the development of UCARS. Alberta is facing a rural physician shortage, a rural family physician shortage in particular, and it’s been an ongoing challenge to come up with a solution to this problem. Doug Myhre, associate dean of Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives, has implemented a number of initiatives at the Faculty of Medicine to encourage our students to explore and pursue rural medicine, and he has the data to prove that these initiatives are working. You can read more about our rural medicine program in this issue. I would also like to extend my congratulations to all of our students at the Faculty of Medicine who will graduate this spring. Graduation is an admirable accomplishment and we are proud of each and every one of you. Please stay in touch. We’d love to hear where your journey takes you. Jon Meddings, MD Dean, Faculty of Medicine University of Calgary

By Kathryn Sloniowski

When it comes to cancer care in Alberta, the good news is that treatment efficacy is improving and people are living longer. The bad news is that this cohort of patients now faces a new set of needs that health-care professionals are only beginning to explore. umbrella of survivorship, the notion of living with and beyond cancer, CancerBridges, a partnership between the universities of Calgary and Alberta, the Alberta Cancer Foundation, and Alberta Health Services, is a multidisciplinary group of health-care professionals whose goal is to research and bring forth evidencebased programs to benefit those living with cancer. The Faculty of Medicine’s Janine Giese-Davis, PhD, is the director of this new provincial initiative. In addition to addressing post- treatment health challenges such as the lasting physical effects of treatment, and the importance of self-monitoring for signs of disease recurrence, CancerBridges also focuses on the mental and social challenges faced by patients, such as post-treatment care coordination, the transition back to work and the fostering of relationships. “Once people leave active treatment, they’ll often go back home and try to put their lives back together only to realize that nothing is quite the same,” says Giese-Davis, a member of the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute. “Finishing treatment can be overwhelming, and patients often have no idea what to expect.” To date, CancerBridges has spearheaded educational sessions, bi-annual survivor symposiums, a monthly speaker series and a website that is not only being used to inform, but also as a tool to bring survivors together in an Working under the

online community. While the events are primarily held in Calgary and Edmonton, the team is currently investigating ways to bring its resources to smaller rural communities as well. “We’re really all about trying to wade into the areas of providing information and support, to advocate for programs that might be beneficial, and to do the research necessary to help us understand the kinds of communication and transition support that people need,” says Giese-Davis.

Did you



Currently in Alberta, approximately 100,000 people have, at one point, had cancer. Since its inception, the CancerBridges website has seen visitors from over 50 communities in Alberta.

Janine Giese-Davis, PhD, was recruited from Stanford to the University of Calgary four years ago to lead a provincewide survivorship initiative through the Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology held by Linda E. Carlson, PhD. She is currently an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Oncology.

What’s on the website? The CancerBridges website hosts survivor stories, educational videos, a community events calendar and a blog. Topics vary from debunking the myths of survivorship to current research and health tips from health professionals. For more information visit: Most of the video material is created by CancerBridges coordinator and innovative young adult cancer survivor Mike Lang. Lang is currently pursuing a master’s degree in health services research at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine.

Phil an t hrop y

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S equencing is so important because it is allowing doctors to enter the stage of personalized medicine

The way to personalized medicine By Laura Herperger

2013 is a big year for the Canadian now known as Canuck One.


comedian or teen idol, Canuck One is the first Canadian to undergo genetic sequencing as part of a new research venture called Personal Genome Project – Canada. All of the information collected will be made public through a database available to scientists around the globe. The researchers will learn everything there is to know about Canuck One such as heritage and disease profile, and even information not yet understood. The goal of this collaboration by Canadian researchers is to eventually map the genomes of 100 Canadians who have volunteered to make their DNA public for the purpose of advancing science. The project is being closely watched by Dr. Francois Bernier, head of the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Medical Genetics and a member of the University of Calgary’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI). Not a hockey player,

On a daily basis, Bernier works to identify the genes behind the diseases of patients at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. He and his team have already fully and partially sequenced at least two dozen individuals in hopes of solving the genetic puzzle of their particular conditions. “Sequencing is so important because it is allowing doctors to enter the stage of personalized medicine,” says Bernier. Personalized medicine aims specific treatments towards specific patients—a possibility, he says, once genes and gene variants behind specific conditions are known. Finding a gene variant is not easy work. Humans have three billion nucleotides—the molecules that make up DNA. DNA represents the genome of a person, and every person’s genome is different from the next at over three million positions. Nonetheless, Bernier and his team of genetic researchers at ACHRI are now better equipped to perform that search. Thanks to new equipment and the creation of a new genomic scale sequencing lab, led by ACHRI and funded with the help of community support through the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and support from the Faculty of Medicine and Alberta Health Services, Bernier and his team are discovering the exact genetic causes of diseases, something unheard of even 10 years ago. He and his team have already identified two new gene variants and are hoping to report on several more very soon. ACHRI’s facility is equipped with three advanced DNA sequencers known as next-generation. One of the newest sequencers is the personalized genome machine, acquired last July, which allows researchers to confirm abnormalities in only four hours.

But not only have the donations provided for the equipment, the funds have also allowed ACHRI to build a research team. With an operational grant from the Faculty of Medicine, ACHRI has been able to recruit two researchers in bioinformatics and is in the process of enlisting three additional geneticists— one supported by Alberta’s Ministry of Enterprise and Advanced Education. Additionally, grants from the Ministry have also provided for the establishment of the Translational Health Chair in Personalized Genomics to provide expertise and collaboration. Dr. Brent Scott, director of ACHRI, is excited about the possibilities. “Donor funding of this combination of cutting edge genetic technology along with the opportunity to recruit excellent clinical investigators and scientists that use it, is allowing ACHRI, the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services, Genetic Laboratory Services to unlock the genetic basis of disease and improve the health outcomes of Alberta’s children,” says Scott. One of the new members of the genetics team is Jason de Koning, PhD. An expert in bioinformatics, a field of highly specialized statistical and computational analysis, de Koning is developing new ways to combine statistical and computer analysis to better and more rapidly interpret DNA sequencing results. His work has reduced the computing times of genetic data from months to minutes, without sacrificing accuracy. As a result of these donations, and the vision and leadership put forward by ACHRI, researchers such as Bernier now have the opportunity to discover genetic variations in patients upon which he can advance the cause of treatments and cures.

Did you KNow? Sequencing equipment can now produce 1.2 trillion bits of data in the span of two weeks. If you tried to count to 1.2 trillion, you would probably die before finishing

“Just like the research taking place around Personal Genome Project – Canada, so too is ACHRI working at the leading edge, offering Albertans some of the best science and health care in Canada,” says Scott. 1 Dr. Francois Bernier

Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation has supported research at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the University of Calgary for more than 30 years. Through the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health, the Foundation supports the efforts of approximately 200 experts working to improve health care for children and mothers in Alberta. Without the Foundation’s support, much of the work at the institute could not advance. This past year alone, the Foundation provided over $10 million for child and maternal health research at the institute, including support for eight chairs, five professorships and 18 research awards. “We are so grateful to our donors for recognizing that new cures and better treatments start with research,” says Saifa Koonar, president and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Their generous investments have and will continue to make possible important advancements in child health.”

Educat ion

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Putting the rural in rural medicine By Kathryn Sloniowski


sk Dr. Doug Myhre, the associate dean of Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives at the University of Calgary, why rural medicine isn’t at the top of the list when medical students choose their clerkship and residency programs, and he’ll say it’s probably because they don’t know what rural medicine means.


While the minds of city-dwelling students may instantly conjure images of wheat fields, livestock and sparse populations, the actual definition of rural varies. the Alberta Government defines rural as being any community in Alberta that isn’t either Calgary or Edmonton while Statistics Canada considers rural to be any community with a population of less than 10,000. The Faculty of Medicine uses the Alberta Government’s definition, and further designates the province’s larger centres: Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray and Red Deer as regional sites. Regardless of the definition however, there’s no question that rural physicians are regularly in demand in Alberta. As part of a province-wide initiative to recruit more doctors to rural environments, Myhre has been spearheading rural initiatives at the faculty for the last 10 years. He and his team at the Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives office hope that by exposing students and residents to rural medicine, by providing them with access to both opportunities and funding, they can change perceptions about rural medicine

For instance, /magazine

and eventually make progress towards attracting and retaining rural doctors. “They need to go and see what working in a rural environment is really like in order to make an informed decision,” he says. “While students who grew up in rural communities are more likely to choose rural, we have to consider the fact that we have far more students attending medical school who are from cities. They may bring misconceptions to the table about what rural doctors do, so we need to actually show them.” Rural initiatives at the Faculty of Medicine currently range from shadowing opportunities in first year, to clerkship rotations in third year, and are available in locations as close as Airdrie and as far afield as Yellowknife. Until recently, these initiatives have typically focused on recruitment to family medicine—what Myhre calls the workhorse of rural Alberta. However, a few years ago, a group of medical graduates showed interest in specializing in other areas of medicine but didn’t want to pursue that specialty in Calgary. In response to this, the Distributed Royal College Initiative (RCI) was created and proposed to the government to help fill this gap. Since only 2.4 per cent of medical specialists practice in rural Alberta, rural specialists can be in even higher demand than family doctors. Additionally, as the populations of these non-urban communities increase, demand for specialists will undoubtedly increase as well. With support from the RCI, residents have access to rural opportunities and financial support to pursue a specialty both outside of family medicine—generalist specialties such as surgery and pediatrics; and sub-specialties such as orthopedics, respiratory, oncology and diagnostic imaging —and outside of Alberta’s major cities, Calgary and Edmonton. A study published in October 2012 concluded that the RCI has contributed significantly to changing perceptions surrounding the pursuit of a medical specialty in a rural community.

 hile students who grew up W in rural communities are more likely to choose rural, we have to consider the fact that we have far more students attending medical school who are from cities. “The RCI program was perceived by the residents as educationally valuable and it may be critical in helping shift attitudes towards rural practice,” says Myhre. “The next step is to follow the residents to determine if the attitude change is sustained and is followed by a behavioural change as well.”

Other rural medicine opportunities for students: Through the Rural Physician Action Plan, first-and second-year students are given the opportunity to shadow a rural physician for two to three days, to see what it’s really like. Medicine 330 This first exposure to family medicine throughout the first-and secondyear is also available in rural and regional communities. Pre- Clerkship Electives Second-year students have the opportunity to explore rural family medicine and/or regional specialty electives at placements throughout Alberta, in a minimum two-week rotation. Clerkship electives Third-year students have the opportunity to enroll in rural family medicine and regional specialty electives year round. Clerkship rotations Third-year students have the opportunity to participate in six-week rural family medicine rotations. Certain specialties such as psychiatry, obstetrics and pediatrics are also available in regional communities. Shadowing

Rural Integrated Community Clerkship

Third-year students have the opportunity to complete their entire ninemonth clerkship in a rural community, focusing on the model of continuous care.


Educat ion

Meet Dr. Melissa Setiawan Anesthesiology Lethbridge What would you say was the biggest difference between rural medicine and urban medicine? Sometimes the perception is if you choose rural, you do less or it’s less academic. To my surprise it was equally as academic and challenging. The difference is, you may not have the same level of support; so you may have to make some judgment calls that you’re not used to making in the city where you would be able to consult more people. What did you notice about the lifestyle of working in a rural location? It only takes about five to 10 minutes to drive home. You gain so much time in your day when you don’t have that long commute. What did you notice about your rural work environment? Working in a smaller community makes communication and working as part of a health-care team easier because if you know everybody by name and face, it’s a much more comfortable working environment and it makes patient care much more streamlined. In the city, there is so much staff that sometimes you’ll work with someone once and you won’t see them again for six months. What would you say to someone considering rural medicine? An elective or trial locum is definitely worth the experience even if you’re not interested in pursuing a career in rural medicine. The experience is positive and enriching, so you don’t really have anything to lose. Would you work in a rural setting if you had the opportunity? I am now. When the opportunity came up for me to go back after my rotation, I thought about how great the experience was and both my husband and I discussed how happy I had been. It was definitely one of the better rotations, so we decided to go back. S PE C IA LTY

RC I Rotati o n L o cati o n

Meet Dr. Spencer McLean Orthopedics, fifth-year resident RC I Rotati o n L o cati o n Lethbridge What would you say was the biggest difference between rural medicine and urban medicine? From an orthopedics perspective, in Calgary, we’re very focused on specific body parts, whereas in Lethbridge, you don’t know what will come through the door. It could be bad arthritis, posttraumatic deformities in the arm, pediatric cases, etc. You have to wear a bunch of hats. What did you notice about the lifestyle of working in a rural location? I could walk to work or when I did drive, I wouldn’t get stuck in traffic jams. It’s a slower way of life compared to the rat race of the city. What skills do you think you learned working in a rural environment? I’d say multi-tasking in a different way—having to think more broadly in scope of how a patient presents. What would you say to someone considering rural medicine? Keep an open mind and try it out. It’s an eye opening experience. When you get into med school, everything is new and big and you want to be on the wards and in the emergency room. As you progress through residency, the thrill of that does take its toll, and experiencing a practice that isn’t as busy can be quite rewarding—you’ll still get the stuff that gets your blood pressure and heart rate up. If you get the opportunity to do it, you should just go for it. You will probably be pleasantly surprised at how awesome it is. Would you work in a rural setting if you had the opportunity? Absolutely. I really enjoyed living in a smaller town. S PE C IA LTY

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Researching the walkability of neighbourhoods By Leora Rabatach

Most of us wake up knowing that we’ll be spending a good portion of our day in the dreaded commute: slow-moving traffic, construction delays and detours that can take us to unexpected places on our way to work, school or wherever we need to go. In light of this, it comes as no surprise that many Calgarians define their ideal neighbourhood as one that would allow them to walk to work. At the University of Calgary’s Institute for Public Health, Assistant Professor Gavin McCormack,

PhD, is taking this knowledge one step further. He is exploring the links between the walkability of the neighbourhoods we choose to live in and our overall health and levels of physical activity. “The evidence suggests that associations between a neighbourhood’s built environment and levels of physical activity exist, but we still don’t know to what extent these associations can be considered causal,” says McCormack. “Living in neighbourhoods that have high street or pedestrian connectivity and a large mix of land uses (among other features) is

associated with more walking, but not everyone who resides in a walkable neighbourhood regularly walks, and not everyone who resides in a less walkable neighbourhood is inactive.” Currently, McCormack is exploring the interrelationships between the built environment and motivation–our intentions, attitudes towards physical activity, self-efficacy, and our perceptions of the neighbourhoods we live in. He’s interested in knowing what features of the neighbourhood’s built environment, such as the presence of sidewalks and the proximity

and mix of land uses and destinations, support physical activity behaviour of the residents in those neighbourhoods. In the future, this research could be used to inform decisions on how new communities should be built and how established neighbourhoods can potentially be redeveloped or retrofitted. These decisions could have a significant impact on the health of our communities. “Modifying a single Calgary neighbourhood to make it more pedestrian- friendly has the potential to influence the walking behaviour of a large number of

residents over a long period of time,” says McCormack. “It is this type of intervention, one that is far reaching with impact on behaviour over a long time span, that is likely to lead to increases in physical activity at the population level. “In the future, this could result in significant reductions in the risk of obesity, as well as chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, hypertension, depression and some cancers.” Decreasing the incidence of these adverse health issues could also reduce the cost burden on our health-care system

for treating and managing these conditions. Creating walkable neighbourhoods might also have other positive health and economic benefits. For example, as walking becomes more convenient, it could replace private motor vehicles as the preferred mode of transportation for local trips, potentially leading to a reduction in air pollution and better air quality. For a city that still seems ruled by the automobile (a recent civic census showed that 70 per cent of people drove alone on their last trip to work), this is good news.

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About The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education

Looking back to help look forward

When Duffy started her research (with a two-year clinical research training fellowship in Ontario), all the studies were of adults with mood disorders. “These are illnesses that run in families. That’s the most reliable risk factor,” she says. “I thought if I really wanted to understand the trajectory

T he idea of following people at risk is to identify them earlier, intervene effectively earlier and manage the illness and prevent the morbidity and mortality.

By Jennifer Allford


Dr. Anne Duffy started asking a few questions during long nights in the emergency room. her medical specialty training in psychiatry at the University of Ottawa and spending a lot of time on call in emergency seeing adolescent psychiatric patients, where “every second one” seemed to meet the current criteria for depressive disorder. “I was perplexed,” says the holder of the CAIP Professorship in Youth Mental Health at the Mathison Centre for Mental Health, Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI). “Some kids were clearly in an acute crisis, some were anxious kids who became very unhappy and upset and some of these kids seemed She was completing

to have a major depressive episode out of nowhere,” Duffy says. “I thought, why are we giving all these kids the same diagnosis?” That question has led to a distinguished career exploring the early detection of mood disorders in youth. Duffy’s landmark longitudinal studies of children with parents who have bipolar disorder allowed her to

T hese kids are also at high risk for substance abuse, which really wreaks havoc on the illness course and treatment response. map out the early course of the disorder and develop a clinical staging model— an important tool for researchers to find treatments and better understand the neurobiology behind bipolar disorder.

into primary recurrent mood disorders then I should be studying the younger generation of these families.” Duffy, along with her longstanding collaborator Dr. Paul Grof, co-founded the Mood Disorders Centre of Ottawa ( to research adult patients with bipolar and depressive disorders, and their children. Twenty years later, it’s the largest and longest running longitudinal family cohort study of evolving mood disorders in the world. “The idea of following people at risk is to identify them earlier, intervene effectively earlier and manage the illness and prevent the morbidity and mortality,” she says. “These people are at high risk, especially early in the course, for suicidality. “These kids are also at high risk for substance abuse, which really wreaks havoc on the illness course and treatment response.” Duffy’s research is revealing important biological components to mood disorders, such as abnormalities in cortisol profiles, a hormone regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in the brain. “When they’re going to get ill or they are ill, the cortisol levels increase

substantially and do not respond to the normal feedback to keep them in check,” she says. While travelling back to Ottawa regularly to continue her research there, Duffy is helping set up an integrated clinical research program for people with mood disorders and their families in Calgary. “I’d like to do more looking at normal neurodevelopment and neurodevelopment in kids at high risk,” she says. “We have a very strong tradition in neurosciences research in Calgary with people who specialize in the HPA axis pathways and neurodevelopment.” Duffy, who was born in Toronto, is thrilled to be back in Calgary, where she completed her MD in 1991. “It’s a great place to live and a wonderful medical research community,” she says. “It’s vibrant and dynamic and things happen here.” And for Duffy, things happen when she asks the right questions: “How do we help youth who are at risk for mood disorders, or presenting with mood disorders at risk for suicide and substance abuse? How do we all get together to do that?” 2 Dr. Duffy is a professor of psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine.

One in five Canadians experiences a mental illness in their lifetime— and most of these illnesses, and addictions, start before the age of 24, preventing young people from getting an education, securing employment or maintaining family ties.

Calgary businessman Ronald P. Mathison was inspired to “make a real difference” in the lives of people with mental illness. The president and CEO of Matco Investments Ltd invested $10 million to create The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education to support research into the early identification, treatment and prevention of mental disorders, with a particular focus on children and youth populations. The Mathison Centre supports 11 researchers and clinicians with world-class expertise in brain and neuroscience research who work together to enhance mental health care in our community. It is a partnership with the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute, which develops and supports state-ofthe-art research and education programs focusing on neurological and mental health challenges. This is the only centre of its kind in the country and it’s leading the way to finding solutions to mental health illnesses —solutions that will help transform people’s lives in Canada and around the world. For more information, visit

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How is a stem cell different from other cells in the body?

What is a stem cell? Scientists describe a stem cell as any cell in the body that can replicate itself and differentiate into specialized cell types such as heart, bone, cartilage or nerve cells. One of the richest sources of adult stem cells is the bone marrow.

What clinical conditions are currently treated using stem cells?

cells in the body such as those found in the nervous system, muscles and in various organs can have limited ability to replicate themselves and cannot differentiate into other specialized cell types. Due to their defining properties, stem cells play an important role in normal tissue maintenance and repair.


A single cell that can

replicate itself, or‌

Currently, adult stem cells can be used in the treatment of various blood cancers, such as leukemias and lymphomas, through bone marrow transplants. It is hoped that with further research, stem cells could one day be used to treat diseases such as diabetes and liver disease, and conditions such as spinal cord injuries and heart attacks.

What do stem cells do? Stem cells help with the natural repair of injuries and the natural turnover of tissues.

How many stem cells do we have in our bodies?

How do they do this?

parts of our bodies will have different numbers of stem cells at various points in our lives. For instance, a 30-year-old adult will have stem cells in the bone marrow (known as mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs) at a frequency of one stem cell for every 250,000 cells. By the age of 80, this number drops to approximately one stem cell for every 2,000,000 cells. This could help explain why bone fractures in the elderly take longer to heal.


‌differentiate into different cell types.

This information was provided by Jaymi Taiani, PhD, the scientific affairs manager at the University of Calgary’s McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health. Taiani researched stem cell use for bone tissue engineering as part of her MSc and PhD projects, and currently focuses on public education and awareness at the McCaig Institute.

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Illustration reprinted with permission by the National Academy of Sciences, courtesy of the National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2013.

When an injury occurs, certain cells at the site will secrete chemical signals that notify the rest of the body that there has been an injury. Stem cells have receptors on their surface that pick up on these signals, and they subsequently migrate to the injury site to participate in repair. They will replicate themselves to increase their numbers, and will differentiate into the specialized cell types that are needed to repair the tissue. In a bone fracture for example, the stem cells may create blood cells to help with clotting and they may participate in new cartilage and bone formation.

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Sudan 3

In 2003, Lashitew Gedamu, PhD, a professor in the University of Calgary’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, delivered the first molecular biology short-course as part of the University of Calgary’s global health program at the Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Gulf of Aden Djibouti

Addis Ababa



University of Calgary’s global health program increases research capacity in Ethiopia By Todd O’Keefe

Indian Ocean Kenya



 y increasing their research B capacity, we help Ethiopian researchers take control of their own research and become self-sufficient.

The short course was designed to help establish a training program for researchers in an effort to increase biomedical research capacity throughout the country. This initiative, the Ethiopian component of the university’s global health program, was originally conceived by Gedamu through discussions with colleagues in the Faculty of Medicine’s Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) degree program. The short-course program has since evolved to include educational visits from numerous faculty supervisors as well as BHSc undergraduate students from all three subject streams: biomedical sciences, bioinformatics, and health and society. “The purpose of the program was to build capacity in global health research with a focus on molecular biology and infectious diseases at AHRI, as well as other universities and institutes in Ethiopia,” says Gedamu. Guido van Marle, PhD, and Wendy Hutchins, PhD, members of the University of Calgary’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, have been developing and delivering the training courses in Ethiopia for more than five years. van Marle says there is a need to train researchers in a cross-disciplinary fashion and to establish a training approach that can be adopted so as to position those being trained to train others—a train the trainer approach. The program also provides necessary hands-on experience. “We focus on a teaching philosophy of applying knowledge in a broad range of techniques and areas that directly transfers to their own training environments,” says van Marle, also the BHSc biomedical sciences director. “Over the years, we have focused on hands-on training courses to teach molecular biology techniques, and how to maximize their limited resources when applied to seemingly advanced and expensive techniques, such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

“By increasing their research capacity, we help Ethiopian researchers take control of their own research and become selfsufficient. This includes driving their own research programs in areas such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV.” The program also goes beyond areas of laboratory and clinical medicine, and trains researchers in veterinary medicine and agriculture, increasing research capacity as a whole. As evidence of the program’s success, the course is now taught independently twice a year by staff at AHRI, and Gedamu says that the teaching philosophy is drawing interest from other Ethiopian institutes interested in adopting the model for their instructors and researchers


as well. In 2011, it expanded to the University of Gondar, located in Gondar, Ethiopia. “Over the past five years, the global health program, in collaboration with AHRI, has trained more than 200 Ethiopian scientists with diverse research interests from different universities and institutes,” says Gedamu. “The program has significant impact on building sustainable research and educational capacity in Ethiopia, and is expanding rapidly.” 3 Guido van Marle, PhD, giving a molecular biology laboratory training demonstration for Ethiopia researchers and instructors at the University of Gondar. 4 Lashitew Gedamu, PhD, Stefana Pancic, Erin Stebner-Degelman, Azin Rouhi and Ruble Sandu posing with a local soccer team in Gondar Ethiopia.


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Profiling a pathologist W

hen Dr. Jennifer Chan first began medical school, she knew very little about what pathology was—what she did know she picked up from watching television shows such as Quincy as a kid. After enrolling in pathology electives and recognizing that pathology played a key role in virtually every one of her medical rotations, it wasn’t long before she found herself waiting eagerly in the lab to speak to the pathologists about their findings and to peer down the microscope with them. After completing a residency in anatomic pathology at Harvard, a fellowship in neuropathology and a research fellowship at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Chan is now a practicing neuropathologist and researcher at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine. She examines all types of neuro-specimens, from the brain and spinal cord to the peripheral nerve, and also has a keen research interest in neuro-oncology—pediatric and adult malignant brain tumours specifically.

“What we do is critically important to the treatments patients receive.”


Dr. Jennifer Chan P r of e ss i o n

Neuropathologist Loc at i o n

Calgary O th e r

Mom of two What was so intriguing to you about pathology? Pathology is the basis of disease; pathologists seek to answer the what, why and how questions with respect to disease. It’s also very visual and applied. I love looking at stuff. It was just particularly fascinating to me to see a tumour either on the bench or under the microscope and to think about what makes those cells grow. I am constantly asking, ‘What can we learn from this.’ It’s so much fun to look at the slides, and to read about the diagnoses and the science behind it.

co n t i n u e R e a d i n g ...



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“You can’t help but feel a connection to that person even though you’ve never met them.”

S to r y co n t i n u e d

As a neuropathologist, what kinds of cases do you see? Even though I have my own interest in neuro-oncology, I’m trained to examine material across a wide disease spectrum. For instance, I need to know about neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s and ALS; cancers of the brain, infectious diseases that affect the nervous system, and inflammatory processes such as multiple sclerosis. Those are all in the parameters of a neuro-oncologist’s practice. What do you like most about being a neuropathologist? At a baseline, the brain and the cells that comprise it are interesting themselves. But there is also a certain activation energy required for a surgeon to biopsy the brain. It’s not trivial. Neuropathologists only get specimens that are really important. To put it bluntly, there’s a high likelihood of having something interesting in your material—a high treasure-to-trash ratio. Also, neuropathology cases are often complex. I really like the problem solving and delving deep into what it is.

What is the hardest part of your job? Because my job is about 75 per cent research and 25 per cent clinical, the most difficult thing is just striking the right balance. It’s challenging to keep competitive in both realms. I would say this is the case for all clinician scientists—how to choose your area of interest to ensure that your research career melds with your clinical career. That being said, it’s also probably the greatest strength. My research informs my clinical practice and my clinical practice informs my research. What is the hardest part of being a pathologist in general? Clinicians look to us for the final diagnosis. It carries a lot of responsibility and sometimes, in reality, we don’t know all the answers. That’s the most uncomfortable situation for a pathologist —to say when you don’t know. I think the second hardest part is that few people understand what we do. There are many misconceptions about the field. What kind of interactions do you have with patients? Pathologists interact a lot with the health-care team but we’re one step removed from the patients, though I might see them in the elevators and hallways. But even though we do not have direct patient contact for care, what we say often determines and changes the course of how the patient is treated. While we may not sit down with patients and explain what we saw under a microscope, what we do is critically important to the treatments patients receive. Being that you’re often far removed from patients, do you ever find yourself getting emotionally connected to your cases? Yes, all the time. You can’t help but feel a connection to that person even though you’ve never met them. When we receive a case, the specimen comes with a piece of paper that doesn’t necessarily have a picture or life story of the patient, but

demographic information and a few words about how they presented to clinical attention. If I see a frontal lobe tumour from a 40-year-old female it is hard not to think, oh, that could be me. I also have two kids, and I see a lot of pediatric brain tumours; when you see the diagnoses, especially if it’s malignant, you think how terrible it is. We also discuss our cases and the patients in tumour board so I hear about the patient’s treatment course. But there are good stories too. One time I was looking at a lesion that was thought to be a highly malignant brain tumour on imaging and it turned out to be a parasite. I thought wow, this guy just went from certain death in two years to we’ll give you some special antiparasitic medicine and see you in follow-up. It made me want to give the guy a high-five even though I didn’t know him. What kind of interactions do you have with other health-care professionals? We interact a lot with clinicians. When we make our diagnoses, if it’s unusual in any way, we’re on the phone with them, letting them know it’s an unusual case, talking about other tests that might be useful, and letting them know what to watch out for. We are present in tumour board rounds, alongside the oncologist, the radio-oncologist, the radiologist etc. We are there to discuss the

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pathology of tumours and to make sure that our pathology either shows what everyone else is thinking to confirm that we’re taking the right tack, or whether it shows something different and leads to an alternate course. What would you say to anybody interested in pathology? Talk to a pathologist! I couldn’t be happier with what I chose. It is for different personalities, and if you need a lot of glory, you won’t find it in pathology. We’re very low-key, but it’s intellectually challenging and fascinating work. For those who might be considering basic or translational research careers, it’s also a great way to fuse clinical work with research— you use much of the same skill set so it’s a good way to blend the two. Your schedule and time on call are also more predictable than many other fields, so whether your interest is research or something else, a career in pathology allows more attention to be paid to those pursuits. What is your research? A lot of what I’m interested in doing is making new and better models of brain tumours and studying the early events in the genesis of brain tumours. I’m also involved in several larger projects to sequence the genomes of certain brain tumour types to look for new gene mutations. It’s an incredibly exciting time in science. We can now sequence every gene in the human


genome, and many disease-associated mutations are being discovered. Now the challenge is to figure out which are the drivers in tumour genesis and maintenance, and which are the passengers. To sort these questions out you need good model systems in which to test the functions of these genes. I also interface with some larger collaborative projects and provide pathology expertise to those efforts. I’ll help design experiments contributing the pathology point of view. Also, when new drugs are tested in animal models, for instance, I will evaluate the tissue afterwards and determine if there is an effect or not, and if there are any changes in morphology or growth. Lastly, I run a tumour bank for brain tumours and a range of pediatric tumours. The bank is a resource that’s open to other researchers. We’re building this collection to empower tumour-related studies. Patients are asked for consent before their tumour tissue is placed in the tumour bank. It’s a great way for patients to be engaged in research and help fuel future discoveries about their type of disease. Pathology residency programs at UCalgary The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine accepts three anatomic pathology residents, one neuropathology resident, and two general pathology residents each year. The residency programs are five years. For more information on pathology training at the University of Calgary, see

Did you know? is the study of diseases and diagnoses. Anatomic pathology deals with looking at tissues that can come from anything that is removed from a patient, either surgically or from an autopsy. Other areas related to anatomic pathology that also fall under the pathology and laboratory medicine umbrella are specialties such as clinical chemistry and microbiology, among others. There are many different areas of pathology such as dermatopathology (focusing on the skin), forensic pathology (determining cause of death) and hematopathology (focusing on diseases of the blood cells). Dr. Chan is a neuropathologist, which is a pathologist who specializes in tissue and molecular diagnoses of anything neurologic such as the brain and the spinal cord.


Misconceptions Pathologists only do autopsies. Chan says that in her line of work, 90 per cent or more is based on examining surgical samples while less than 10 per cent is based on autopsies. Other branches of pathology, however, such as forensic pathology, will focus more intently on autopsies.

 athologists are antisocial because P they do not have patient contact. Chan admits that while there is indeed a type of geeky phenotype that gravitates toward her field, most pathologists are dynamic and social individuals. She counters that just because they don’t interact directly with patients, it does not mean they do not like people. They simply spend more of their time around other physicians rather than patients.

Pathologists sit in the lab all day, running machines that make diagnoses. While pathology is a field that focuses on diagnostics, and while machines are used in the diagnostic laboratories, pathologists are not simply technicians overseeing machines. The pathologist’s job is to make sure that the right tests are performed, to make sure that the results from those tests are accurate, and to interpret the meaning of those results. Pathologists need to have a large knowledge base about biomarkers and molecular abnormalities, and clinical correlates in order to synthesize several pieces of information to yield a diagnosis.


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In the community

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In the news Clinical trial shows drug protects brain from stroke damage Canadian scientists and clinicians, led by Dr. Michael Hill of the Calgary Stroke Program at Foothills Medical Centre and the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), have demonstrated that a neuroprotectant drug, developed by Dr. Michael Tymianski at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, located at the Toronto Western Hospital, protects the human brain against the damaging effects of stroke. A team of

An apple a day In response to the rise of childhood obesity rates and the increase of unhealthy food choices available to children, medical students from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine created the Apple a Day program—a program designed to teach children about the importance of making healthy food choices. The initiative sends student volunteers into elementary school classrooms where they use fun and interactive tools to teach students about nutrition. This past fall, the program visited eight classrooms in the Calgary area, and organizers anticipate visiting another eight this spring.

Sepsis discovery made

Quilting for a cause As part of the university’s annual United Way campaign, Faculty of Medicine staff members Carol Walsh, Leslie McGill, Valerie Martin, Shelley Mohl, Robin Fisher and Anne Heiligsetzer crafted a beautiful quilt, on behalf of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, that was raffled off for nearly $1,000. In the photo: Carol Walsh, Valerie Martin, Leslie McGill and Shelley Mohl. The Faculty of Medicine raised over $10,000 for United Way this year.

A day in the life High school students got a first-hand glimpse of what being an MD student is like when they were invited to the Faculty of Medicine for a morning in December 2012. The annual event put on by first-year medical students is designed as an opportunity for high school students to explore medicine as a career possibility. Approximately 150 high school students participated—21 of which visited from rural locations.


When bacteria enter

the blood stream, it’s possible that sepsis—more commonly referred to as blood poisoning —can occur. A new study has discovered one of the ways the body clears bacteria from the blood stream, which could potentially help researchers

This landmark clinical trial was a randomized, double-blinded, multi-centre trial that was conducted in Canada and the U.S. The study evaluated the effectiveness of NA-1 [Tat-NR2B9c] when it was administered after the onset of small strokes that are incurred by patients who undergo neurointerventional procedures to repair brain aneurysms. This type of small ischemic stroke occurs in over 90 per cent of aneurysm

understand why some people become septic and others do not. The study, which was conducted in animal models, found that neutrophils— a type of white blood cell— releases large spider-like webs that help to catch the bacteria. The nets are covered in toxic chemicals that not only destroy the bacteria, but can be harmful to the human body. Paul Kubes, PhD, one of the study’s authors and a member of the University of Calgary’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, says that even though this process has been shown to be an essential part of fighting off sepsis, it’s now thought that it may also contribute to the damaging, and potentially fatal, effects of the disease. 6 Paul Kubes, PhD, is supported by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.


patients after such a procedure, but usually does not cause overt neurological disability. 5 Dr. Michael Hill is supported by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.

University supporter recognized

Calgary businessman,

philanthropist, and supporter of the University of Calgary, David O’Brien, was inducted into the Calgary Business Hall of Fame in October 2012. The Hall of Fame honours the lifetime achievements of outstanding southern Alberta citizens who have helped shape our province through their business success, entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropic contributions, and are subsequently serving as role models for society. O’Brien and his wife Gail have been key supporters of the University of Calgary and the Faculty of Medicine for years. A $5-million gift

from the couple played a pivotal role in the development of the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program, which is now housed primarily in the O’Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program— named in recognition and appreciation of the gift.

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In the news



In the news Global recognition for iGem team The University of Calgary’s

7 7 iGem Team

New machine could help diagnose autoimmune diseases earlier


A new diagnostic tool is now being used at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine. The BioFlash allows researchers to detect biomarkers, such as antibodies, in the blood of patients with various autoimmune diseases such as lupus and arthritis. The technology is a rapid assay that aids in the early diagnosis of people

affected by these diseases. Using the BioFlash, researchers have the ability to process up to 1,000 blood samples in less than a day—something that could take several days using other biomarker technologies. The machine is already approved for use by Health Canada and is currently being used to process blood samples from southern Alberta, across Canada and around the world. In addition, it is being used to develop new advanced diagnostic tests for a variety of autoimmune diseases. 8 Dr. Marv Fritzler, a University of Calgary rheumatologist and member of the University’s McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health and Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, with the BioFlash Machine.

iGem team took the Best Human Practices Award at the 2012 world championship held at MIT in Boston in November. The team was named one of the top 16 teams in the international competition which included 72 finalists from some of the world’s most prestigious universities. The top 16 global ranking for Calgary’s 2012 iGEM team comes after 192 universities participated in local and regional preliminary

Joint Liver Institute officially open


According to the Canadian Liver Foundation there are more than 100 types of liver disease affecting men, women and children. The Joint Liver Institute, a unique partnership between the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine and Capital Medical University (CMU) in Beijing, China, aims to advance research

competitions. The award- winning project features FRED and OSCAR, two biological systems designed to detect and destroy toxins in Alberta’s tailings ponds. FRED (Functional and Robust Electrochemical Detector) measures the level of toxins in a more cost effective way than conventional chemical methods, while OSCAR (Optimized System for Carboxylic Acid Remediation) removes the toxic components from tailings and converts them to hydrocarbons such as diesel.

and patient care for those affected by liver disease in both countries. The institute, which officially opened in Calgary in December 2012 (June 2011 in Beijing), has created opportunities for collaborative research and training exchanges. The institute is also currently working to create joint biobank access between the two institutions. Biobanks house large numbers of biological samples necessary for research and allow for faster access to data by multiple researchers. 9 Dr. Ning Li (left), president of YouAn Hospital in Beijing, and Dr. Sam Lee (right), Calgary Head of the Joint Liver Institute.

Helping teens with depression Researchers at the

University of Calgary’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health will be examining the use of noninvasive brain stimulation as a potential new treatment for depression in adolescents. Principal investigator Frank MacMaster, PhD, will team up with pediatric neurologist Dr. Adam Kirton to lead the pilot study—a first of its kind in Canada.

The pilot involves the use of non-invasive technology called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to stimulate the frontal lobe—the executive decision-making part of the brain—to offset negative thoughts produced by other parts of the depressed brain. TMS has already proved effective in treating adults with depression, helping to put some into remission after a few weeks of treatment.

Osteoporosis study looks at bone architecture to determine fracture risk Researchers at the

University of Calgary are hoping to help people with osteoporosis by predicting which patients are more likely to fracture their bones. Having this information would better allow doctors to decide which patients may need pharmaceutical or lifestyle interventions. Using a high resolution computed tomography, or micro-CT, scanner to analyze the architecture of the bone, scientists scanned the wrists of 44 women with a history of low-trauma fracture and 88 age-matched control subjects that did not have low-trauma fracture. Based on the results, researchers demonstrated that the machine could

Drug offers new pain management therapy for diabetics A study from the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute shows there is evidence to support a new drug therapy called nabilone to treat diabetic neuropathy, or nerve pain. Researchers enrolled 60 patients with diabetic neuropathy in a 12week placebo controlled clinical study. At the end of the study, patients reported less pain and an improvement in sleep and anxiety when taking nabilone. The study gives doctors more evidence

to support its prescription for treating neuropathy pain in diabetics. Nabilone is approved for use by Health Canada and the FDA, and is currently used in Canada to treat nausea in chemotherapy patients. It is a synthetic cannabinoid, which mimics some of the chemical compounds of cannabis, or marijuana.

Competing to be Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All

identify bone micro- architecture, density and strength information and could therefore be a useful prediction tool. The findings were published as part of a study in the November 2012 online edition of Osteoporosis International.

Canada’s Greatest

returned to the Discovery Channel for a second season and featured a University of Calgary microbiologist as one of the contestants. Carla Davidson, PhD, specializes in vaccine development and science outreach. She is one of 10 contestants


competing in the reality television show for the title of Canada’s Greatest Know-it-All. The contestants were picked from over 3,000 submissions and come from a wide range of professions, experiences and educational backgrounds. During the show, they compete in a series of physical and mental challenges designed to put their problem solving skills and teamwork to the test by answering questions like how things are engineered, driven, built, powered and even blown up.

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New book to showcase rich history of the Faculty of Medicine

Good reads

By Aisling Gamble

Taking history to heart

Trace the fact that over the last decade Calgary has had the lowest death rate in Canada from heart attacks and you’ll find the reason behind this city’s world-class reputation in cardiovascular sciences stems from the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta—an entity of both the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services. Hearts, Minds & Vision: Roots of the Libin Cardiovascular

Institute of Alberta, 1930-2010 (Kingsley Publishing, 2012), tells the story of Libin researchers and clinicians who dedicate themselves to saving, extending and improving the health and lives of southern Albertans. Authors Dr. D. George Wyse, Dr. J. Robert Lampard, Barbara Kermode-Scott and Al-Karim Walli capture 80 years of changes in the local cardiovascular landscape

By Lynda Sea

and share inspiring human stories of the people behind the diagnoses, treatments and life-saving research. “The Libin story, in a way, reflects the geographic movement of the centre of the country politically, economically, scientifically and socially in a westward direction,” says Wyse. The blend of archival images, written memoirs and interviews with leading cardiovascular icons offers an insightful insider perspective on how Calgary has evolved since the 1930s, when Calgary’s first heart specialist, Dr. Earle P. Scarlett, arrived with an electrocardiograph (ECG) machine. Programs and breakthroughs have since put Calgary on the international map for cardiovascular research, education and patient care. “The book is a great record of what has gone on in Calgary,” says Dr. Eldon

the history of, and gives a framework for, how and why things are the way they are. And there are always things happening here. The future looks bright.” Hearts, Minds & Vision: Roots of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, 1930 – 2010 (Kingsley Publishing, 2012), $24.95, is available through the University of Calgary bookstore and online at

The Libin story, in a way, reflects the geographic movement of the centre of the country politically, economically, scientifically and socially in a westward direction. Smith, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary and former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. “It’s a readable book that really does lay out

Established in 1967, with the first students admitted in 1970, the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine is one of the youngest medical schools in Canada. Despite its youth, a new history book is now in the works to showcase the rich history of the medical school and those involved in its past, present and future success, and to demonstrate the impact the school has had on the community locally, nationally and internationally. An early effort by Drs. Laurie Fisher, Cyril Levine and Tom Saunders to write a faculty history was started but never completed. The new book project is being spearheaded by Dr. Robert Lampard, former director of the Foothills Hospital and a member of the Calgary History of Medicine Society, in collaboration with Drs. David Hogan, James Wright and Frank Stahnisch. Lampard is no stranger to writing books on the history of medicine in Alberta, having individually

authored three and co-authored a fourth. The team of authors is aiming for a 2017 publication date to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Dr. William Cochrane’s appointment as the first dean of medicine.

Additionally, despite being a national leader in health research with an excellent international reputation, in Lampard’s view, the faculty’s record of success has been under acknowledged. What story will the book tell?

Why tell the story of the Faculty of Medicine?

“The story of the Faculty of Medicine needs to be told,” says Lampard. “Primarily created to train family physicians at a time when there was a perceived shortage, the faculty has moved beyond this, evolving into a school that educates physicians for a full spectrum of activities: from primary care to specialty care; to careers in education, management and research.” He says the undergraduate medical program, one of only two in North America with a three-year program, has produced countless physicians and continues to bring many high profile physicians to Calgary to do their research.

The book will consist of six chapters, each of which will focus on the first six deans of the faculty. Lampard also hopes to include personal stories from faculty and students, both current and alumni. Dr. Frank Stahnisch, an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Community Health Sciences and the Department of History, believes the book will provide an exciting history of the faculty, highlighting its great achievements and showcasing the conditions (local, regional and national) under which it operated. Dr. Jim Wright, head of the Department of Pathology

and Laboratory Medicine, has formal training as a medical historian. Wright says the finished project will provide a sense of how the Faculty of Medicine has evolved and will provide insight into its deans and the challenges of their respective times. Dr. David Hogan, a professor in the Division of Geriatrics in the departments of medicine, clinical neurosciences and community health sciences, says the project will give readers a sense of how the Faculty of Medicine got to where it is and in what direction it’s headed. “If we want to continue to prosper, we have to learn from our past successes and false starts,” he says. Be part of the History of the Faculty of Medicine project If you would like to share personal stories about the Faculty of Medicine and are a current or former faculty member, student or alumni, please contact Dr. Robert Lampard at

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University of Calgary researcher Dr. Marvin Fritzler took the top honour, Outstanding Contribution to the Alberta Science and Technology Community, at the prestigious Alberta Science and Technology Leadership (ASTech) Foundation annual awards gala.


11 1

Faculty of Medicine graduate students Braedon McDonald and Sachin Pendharkar were honoured with the prestigious Chancellor’s Graduate Medal and Governor General’s Gold Medal, respectively, at the Nov. 13, 2012 convocation ceremony with both the Governor General and the Chancellor in attendance. Established to acknowledge the contributions of the chancellors of the University of Calgary, the Chancellor’s Graduate Medal celebrates excellence in academic achievement at the graduate studies level. The Governor General’s Gold Medal (Master’s) recognizes a student who has achieved the highest academic distinction throughout a program of study.

Each year the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) recognizes the outstanding teaching and research achievements of

Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 is an annual selection of Calgary’s brightest and most active leaders under the age of 40. The University of Calgary alumni and campus connections to this year’s list are as strong as ever. The Faculty of Medicine extends congratulations to: Christophe Altier, PhD, Dr. Shelagh Coutts, Dr. Breanne Everett, Deborah Kurrasch, PhD, Minh Dang Nguyen, PhD, and Dr. Nicola Wright.

Three medicine faculty members were recognized by the Killam Trust organization for their outstanding leadership contributions. Dr. Cy Frank was awarded the Killam Research Leader


And the Alumnus of Distinction Award goes to…

Awards and recognition

its members through the prestigious CAG Research and Education Awards. Three of the six award recipients for 2013 are from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine: Dr. Sylvain Coderre, CAG Education Excellence Award; Dr. Paul Beck, CAG Visiting Research Professorship; Dr. Gil Kaplan, CAG Young Investigator Award.


Award. Dr. Richard Frayne and colleagues received the Killam Interdisciplinary Research Prize. Dr. Sylvain Coderre was awarded the Killam Award for Leadership in Teaching.

to Dr. Ian Lange and Dr. Eldon Smith. The AMA Long-Service Award was awarded to Dr. Christopher J. (Chip) Doig, Dr. Ronald T. Garnett, Dr. David B. Hogan, and Dr. M. Daniel McGowan. Dr. J. Paul Ryan received the distinction of Member Emeritus, which recognizes significant contributions to the medical profession, seniority and long-term membership with the AMA.



In celebration of the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial, the 2012 Western Legacy Awards honoured 100 Outstanding Albertans who have promoted western hospitality, pride of place, integrity and commitment to community. Four of the honourees have ties to the Faculty of Medicine: Dr. Abdul Rahman, Dr. Greg Powell, Dr. Robert Church and Mrs. Ann McCaig.

The Alberta Medical Association (AMA) honoured seven Faculty of Medicine members for distinguished service, long-standing service and long-term membership. The AMA Medal for Distinguished Service was awarded

Dr. Douglas Hamilton, former NASA Flight Surgeon, was awarded the Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal by NASA. This Agency Honor Award is given for accomplishments far above others in quality, scope, and impact which are explicit, significant, and demonstrate results.

10 Braedon McDonald 11 Sachin Pendharkar 12 2012 Western Legacy Award 13 Dr. Douglas Hamilton

Dr. Evan Adams, MD 2002 (pangolin), was awarded the 2012 Faculty of Medicine Alumnus of Distinction Award owing to his outstanding contributions to the community. By Leigh Hurst

to me that the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine would recognize me,” says Adams. “I know they took a chance on me long ago as a different type of medical student, coming from the arts and as an aboriginal student, but I’d like to think that I’ve shown that a diverse classroom begets diverse practitioners. I’ve loved working with and for aboriginal communities as their doctor.” After completing his medical degree at the University of Calgary, Adams served as chief resident in the aboriginal family practice program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, B.C. He also completed a master of public health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. He went on to win the 2005 (provincial) Family Medicine Resident Leadership Award from the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and was the 2005 national winner of the Murray Stalker Award from the CFPC Research and Education Foundation. Currently, Adams is a board member of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, a member of the Provincial Committee on First Nations Health and serves on the advisory committee of the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. Additionally, he is currently involved in research to improve models of health-care service delivery to inner-city aboriginals and is also involved in a study to determine ways to improve access to mental health and addiction care for the same population. In April 2012, Adams was appointed deputy provincial health officer for the province of B.C. He is the past-president of the Indigenous Physicians Association

“It means a lot

of Canada and the past director of the division of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia. He was appointed the first-ever aboriginal health physician advisor in the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, B.C. Ministry of Health and with the (B.C.) First Nations Health Council. Adams is also a successful actor appearing in numerous television series, movies, and live theatre productions including the Emmy-winning Lost in the Barrens and its nominated sequel Curse of the Viking Grave. He also starred as Thomas Builds-The-Fire in Smoke Signals, which won the coveted Audience Award for best film and the Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998. He has won best actor awards from the American Indian Film Festival and the First Americans in the Arts, as well as a 1999 Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance for his portrayal of Thomas in Smoke Signals. Recently, he also won a Gemini Award for co-hosting the 2011 National Aboriginal Achievement Awards with Adam Beach. 14 + 15 Dr. Evan Adams receiving the 2012 Alumnus of Distinction Award.



What is a pangolin? A pangolin is a scaly anteater. The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine began formally naming its MD classes after animals in 1975 when a professor became frustrated with his class and called them “a bunch of turkeys”. The name stuck and so did the tradition, with each medical class naming the class behind them. For obvious reasons, the inaugural medical class, the class of 1973, identify themselves as guinea pigs.

The 3rd Annual Dr. Clarence Guenter Lecture on Global Health

Learning & Health Development in Rural Nepal: learning from the Kathmandu experience Featuring

Professor Arjun Karki, MD

Professor of Medicine and Medical Education Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Kathmandu, Nepal

Professor Keder Baral

Chair, Department of Community Health Sciences, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Kathmandu, Nepal

Public lecture hosted by:

The Office of Global Health & International Partnerships and the Institute for Public Health

4:00pm, Thursday, April 4th, 2013 Reception to follow Limited seating

41095528 PM AGREEMENT NO. 41095528 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to:

University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine Communications and Media Relations 7th Floor, TRW Building 3280 Hospital Drive NW Calgary, Alberta T2N 4Z6

UCalgary Medicine Magazine Spring 2013  

UCalgary Medicine Magazine Spring 2013

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