A message from the dean

I am incredibly proud of how the Max Rady College of Medicine community has responded during the COVID-19 pandemic and I commend your efforts as physicians, researchers, residents, undergraduate and graduate students during these demanding and challenging times. You are making an impact in caring for our most ill patients, supporting the health system, investigating new treatments, and keeping our communities healthy and safe.

Faculty members and alumni are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic daily. You’re demonstrating responsiveness, long hours and hard work to test for and treat patients with COVID-19 while continuing to deliver health-care services to all Manitobans. You are at the heart of this fight and are doing an outstanding job.

Faced with adversity, our researchers are also continuing their important work and many have started projects focused on COVID-19 – with more on the way. New projects include a clinical trial led by Dr. Ryan Zarychanski to test heparin to help improve survival of COVID-19 patients who may experience blood clotting as part of the disease. A team of researchers led by Dr. Xiao-Jian Yao is looking specifically at the development of a vaccine that targets COVID-19 by using a technology platform patented by UM. Dr. Anand Kumar led a study testing four sterilization methods to decontaminate and allow for the reuse of N95 masks. Dr. Michelle Driedger is examining public health COVID-19 outbreak management strategies. Our UM research is crucial in understanding, treating and preventing COVID-19.

Faculty members such as Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, Canada Research Chair in Emerging Viruses have come forward frequently to answer complex COVID-19 questions posed by the media and share their expertise with the public to help our community (and beyond) better understand the novel coronavirus. Medical microbiologists like Dr. Kevin Coombs, infectious disease specialists like Dr. Kelly MacDonald, epidemiologist Dr. James Blanchard, physicians Dr. Marcia Anderson and  Dr. Joss Reimer have also contributed to our understanding of public health measures, data analysis and comparison with past pandemics improving our COVID-19 knowledge.

I am also extremely proud of our medical students who have stepped up to help during the pandemic – volunteering to help test Manitobans at Access Centres, screening people entering Winnipeg hospitals, performing childcare for frontline workers, helping with contact tracing, and calling seniors to make them feel less socially isolated. Our future physicians are showing their character and compassion!

Even though we are practicing physical distancing, we have come together. Your impact is being felt – and I thank you.

Dr. Brian Postl

Dean, Max Rady College of Medicine; dean, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and vice-provost (health sciences) 

Global clinical trial to test blood thinner on COVID-19 patients led by UM and UHN

A large-scale international clinical trial to test whether the blood thinner heparin can help improve survival for COVID-19 patients launched this week, led by Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, associate professor of internal medicine and community health sciencesand clinician-scientists from the University Health Network. Read the full story here

UM researcher leads study on effective N95 mask decontamination during COVID-19 crisis

University of Manitoba clinician-scientists and their research partners at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) have identified effective standard hospital sterilization techniques that may enable in-demand N95 masks to be sterilized up to 10 times for reuse in clinical settings. The project was led by Dr. Anand Kumar, a professor of medical microbiology and infectious diseases. Read the full story here.

Pandemic parallels: UM expert compares Spanish flu and COVID-19

Dr. Kevin Coombs, professor, department of medical microbiology and infectious diseases, has experience studying the Spanish flu. He says there are parallels between the deadly virus from 1918 and today’s novel coronavirus, and he is hopeful a vaccine will be developed. Read the full story here.

Flattening the Curve: UM researchers launch province’s first clinical trial to combat COVID-19

Manitoba’s first clinical trial to test whether a malaria drug can prevent people from contracting COVID-19 is being led by Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, associate professor of internal medicine and community health sciences. Read the full story here

Resilient researchers continue important UM work from home during COVID-19 crisis

For Dr. Meaghan Jones, assistant professor of biochemistry and medical genetics, her research looking at the impact of pre-natal exposure to inhaled particulate matter, like cigarette smoke or air pollution, has been put on hold with the temporary shuttering of her lab. But there is still plenty to do. Read the full story here

Medical students step up to help with COVID-19 response in Manitoba

Over 600 students across the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences have stepped up to assist with COVID-19 response efforts. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the Rady Faculty has been working collaboratively with Shared Health to find ways for students to contribute. Read about some of the medical student volunteers here

Medical student using 3D printing skills to make face masks

Second-year medical student Jakob Weirathmueller is using his 3D printing experience to help a group of physicians develop reusable silicone face masks to be used to protect health-care workers from COVID-19. When he found out that Dr. Christian Petropolis, program director of the University of Manitoba’s plastic surgery residency program, and Dr. William Turk, an ophthalmologist, were developing a reusable silicon face mask he knew he had to volunteer to help out. Read the full story here

Isolated medical students provide weekly COVID-19 updates

A group of students from the Max Rady College of Medicine are using their time of social distance to provide clear information during the COIVD-19 pandemic. The Manitoba COVID-19 Report is a weekly newsletter that was launched March 21. Read the full story here

Dr. Sabine Hombach-Klonisch, in her new role as head of human anatomy and cell science, sees herself as an initiator and facilitator as the department enters a new phase of increased interdisciplinary collaboration in both innovative research and creative teaching. Read the full story here

Dr. Sharon Bruce, the new head of community health sciences in the Max Rady College of Medicine, is taking the lead of a growing and changing department situated within an evolving discipline. Read the full story here.

Dr. Janilyn Arsenio, an assistant professor of internal medicine and immunology and a Canada Research Chair in systems biology of chronic inflammation, has been honoured with admission to the Global Young Academy (GYA). She is one of four Canadians among this year’s 40 GYA inductees, who represent 30 countries. The GYA brings together outstanding early-career researchers for international dialogue and collaboration. Read the full story here

Dr. Jillian Horton, an assistant professor of internal medicine, is the recipient of the 2020 Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada–Gold Humanism Award. The national award recognizes her extraordinary commitment to compassion in medical education and health care. Read the full story here

Dr. Brent Schacter, professor emeritus, department of internal medicine, will be receiving a Special Service Award from the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories. The award acknowledges his work chairing the steering committee that facilitated and guided the development, with the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification, the Qualification in Biorepository Science examination, which will be available online worldwide for biobankers to verify their level of expertise in biobanking.

Dr. Cheryl ffrench, director of simulation and program director for the FRCPC-EM program in the department of emergency medicine, has been honoured with the Resident Doctors of Canada’s Puddester Award for Resident Wellness. She was awarded for being a mentor and a leader who is deeply committed to ensuring a positive learning environment and to improving resident education as a whole. Read the full story here

Dr. Jean-Eric Ghia, associate professor in the departments of immunology and internal medicine, received the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Education Excellence Award. This award reflects Ghia’s educational and outreach work done over the last five years with Radio-Canada, as well as ScienceRendezvous, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and The Biomedical Youth program, an article published in a medical education journal and chapters of a textbook used by university students. The award was presented on March 3 during the 2020 Canadian Digestive Disease Week.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) recently awarded fellowships to two Max Rady College of Medicine researchers as part of a newly launched Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) – Transition to Leadership program. Dr. Anna Chudyk, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of family medicine, and Amanda Fowler-Woods, a PhD candidate in community health sciences, are both first-time recipients of the SPOR national training fellowship. Read the full story here.

University of Manitoba alumnus and lecturer Dr. Kevin Coates was named Manitoba’s Family Physician of the Year for 2019 by The Manitoba College of Family Physicians. The award is granted to a physician who exemplifies the principles of family medicine: community based, a resource to their practice population, grounded in the relationship between patient and physician, and a skilled clinician.

Dr. Ian Whetter, co-lead, Office of Community Engagement, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, received a 2019 Manitoba College of Family Physicians Award of Excellence. He received the award for his outstanding work in the area of social accountability in the Max Rady College of Medicine, the MCFP writes.

See the full list of MCFP 2019 award recipients here.


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Dr. Jean-Eric Ghia, associate professor in the departments of immunology and internal medicine, contributed to the textbook L’appareil digestif: Des sciences fondamentales à la Clinique.