Notable News

Senator calls on physicians to advocate for social justice

Dr. Gigi Osler speaks onstage with Dr. Peter Nickerson.
Dr. Gigi Osler speaks onstage with Dr. Peter Nickerson.

“You are stronger than you think,” Senator Gigi Osler [B.Sc. (Med.)/92, MD/92] told an audience of medical students, physicians and researchers at a UM awards evening in February.

“Even when the outside world is telling you, ’No, you’re not capable,’ you are,” said the ear, nose and throat surgeon, a trailblazer who has a new role in Ottawa as an independent senator representing Manitoba.

Osler, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at UM, was the first racialized woman to serve as president of the Canadian Medical Association.

At the Teacher Recognition and Manitoba Medical Students’ Association Awards evening at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, she spoke onstage with Peter Nickerson [B.Sc.(Med.)/86, MD/86], dean of the Rady Faculty.

Osler urged the audience to help transform medical culture and to take action against factors that negatively influence health at the population level, such as poverty and racism.

“We have to be advocates for social justice, racial justice, equity and social change,” she said.

“In every single interaction you have with a patient, you can be an advocate for them.”

Winning research projects focus on pregnancy

Laila Aboulatta speaking.
Dr. Laila Aboulatta

Taking the prize for the best oral presentation at the College of Pharmacy’s Research Day in March showed Dr. Laila Aboulatta that she is on the right track with her research as a PhD student.

Aboulatta, who earned her doctor of pharmacy degree in Egypt, is examining the impact that COVID-19 measures in Manitoba had on pregnant individuals and perinatal care.

She’s working to determine whether adverse outcomes such as preterm births and stillbirths can be caused by factors that were amplified by the pandemic measures, such as stress, anxiety and socioeconomic pressures.

“The actual causes of preterm births and stillbirths have puzzled researchers for decades,” she said. “With the measures that took place during the pandemic, [we have] an opportunity to dig more.”

Dr. Luis Perez Davalos, a master’s student in pharmacy who holds a medical degree from Mexico, won the research poster competition. His project involves developing a placenta-on-a-chip model to test nanodrugs to treat preeclampsia, a complication of pregnancy.

People with disabilities carry burden of accessibility, panelists say

Close up of blind African American man reading book in braille in college library lounge.Individual students, faculty and staff with disabilities are forced to expend constant effort to be accommodated at universities, which reinforces their experience of being marginalized, panelists said in an online discussion called Ableism in the Academy: Who’s Listening?

The panel discussion in May was hosted by the Rady Faculty Office of Equity, Access and Participation (formerly Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), the College of Rehabilitation Sciences and other UM partners.

Panelist Alicia-Ann Pauld, a Montreal activist who has a physical disability, said universities should adopt truly inclusive policies that accommodate diverse needs as a matter of course, rather than putting the onus on individuals to prove their needs.

Universities “still require disabled students to do the majority of the labour necessary in order for them to have the same rights as other students,” Pauld said.

On a positive note, an initiative called STAART, led by panelist Dr. Melanie Thorley at England’s University of Greenwich and staffed entirely by disabled people, has helped many students with disabilities to achieve academic success.

“If we support people, they can excel,” Thorley said.

View the 90-minute Zoom recording of the panel discussion:

Research chair aims to improve long-term care

Genevieve Thompson stands by a sign outside Riverview Health Centre.
Dr. Genevieve Thompson

Winnipeg’s Riverview Health Centre and the College of Nursing have jointly established a research chair focused on long-term care.

In February, Genevieve Thompson [BN/97, MN/03, PhD/07], a professor of nursing with a strong research interest in delivering high-quality, respectful care to residents of long-term care homes, was awarded the inaugural Research Chair in Person-Directed Living.

Her focus will be on research to improve the quality of life of older people and their families, the quality of care at Riverview, and the quality of work for those employed there.

“Dr. Thompson has the passion and expertise to lead this important research and facilitate knowledge transfer in education and practice,” said Dr. Netha Dyck [BN/88], dean of nursing.

Ensuring that older adults who live at Riverview continue to be healthy and engaged citizens of their community is “a critical aspect of ensuring quality of life and a key aspect of my research,” Thompson said.

Loyal patient praises 57 years of care

Dr. Ryan McCoy, an oral surgery resident, talks with Catherine Hyska.
Dr. Ryan McCoy, an oral surgery resident, talks with Catherine Hyska.

Catherine Hyska has been receiving oral health care at the UM dental clinic for an incredible 57 years.

Hyska, who is 93 years old, started coming to the dental college for appointments in 1966 – just seven years after the building opened. She remembers a time when dental crowns cost only $5 to $10.

“I just loved coming here,” she said. “I knew I was looked after, and everybody is so friendly.”

Even during a period when she lived in Thompson, Man., Hyska would fit appointments at UM into visits to Winnipeg.

“We’re so lucky to have patients who see value in the care that we offer,” said Anastasia Kelekis-Cholakis [DMD/92, Dip. Perio/98], dean of dentistry. “But beyond the care, they are loyal to the educational opportunities they offer the students. It’s truly wonderful.”

Hyska said the secret to keeping her teeth healthy has been listening to the dental students who have treated her.

“I do whatever they tell me,” she said. “I hope to come when I’m 100.”

To learn about becoming a patient at the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry, visit

Ininiw scholar develops curriculum framework

Margaret Hart.Since joining the College of Rehabilitation Sciences in the role of Ininiw (Cree) scholar, Margaret Hart [M.Ed./21] has been developing a curriculum framework for the occupational therapy program that will incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.

Hart, who is from Pimicikamak Cree Nation with kinship ties to Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, joined the college in 2022. She has extensive experience as an Indigenous educator and is pursuing her UM doctorate in education.

“Working towards transformational change in curriculum is a step forward in the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action,” Hart said.

With a focus on decolonizing the curriculum, “the goal is to have a broad and lasting impact on faculty, students and the Indigenous people who are served by occupational therapists,” said Leanne Leclair [M.Sc./04, PhD/14], head of the occupational therapy department.

Hart consults regularly with First Nation communities. “You really need that discourse and dialogue,” she said. “We’re breaking new ground, and I want to do this in an authentic way.”

The college aims to have the Indigenous curriculum framework in place in 2024.

Rady women build leadership skills

Christina Kim.
Christina Kim

Christina Kim [MD/07], associate professor of internal medicine, has distinguished herself as a leader and innovator at CancerCare Manitoba.

The medical oncologist spearheaded an early palliative care initiative for patients with incurable pancreatic cancer. She also co-leads the multidisciplinary Hereditary Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinic at CancerCare.

Although Kim has such successes under her belt, when she heard about leadership development awards available to women in the Rady Faculty, she saw an opportunity to enhance her skills.

“There are challenges in health-care leadership that are unique to women,” Kim said. “I want to grow as a confident and capable leader, and as a mentor to other women.”

Kim was one of six recipients of The Winnipeg Foundation Martha Donovan Women’s Leadership Development Awards in 2022. Her award funded her to attend a three-day online leadership course offered by Harvard Medical School.

The other recipients were Marissa Becker [MD/99], associate professor of community health sciences; Margaret Hart [M.Ed./21], Ininiw scholar at the College of Rehabilitation Sciences; Kate Bernier, master’s student in physiology and pathophysiology; Sanjana Chauhan, PhD student in pharmacology and therapeutics; and Kayla Kostal [BA (Hons.)/21], master’s student in community health sciences.

Pharmacy dean, medicine prof spread word on deprescribing

Dr. Lalitha Raman-Wilms, dean of the College of Pharmacy, has authored a chapter on deprescribing for a new reference book, the Encyclopedia of Evidence in Pharmaceutical Public Health and Health Services Research in Pharmacy.

Deprescribing is the supervised process of reducing or eliminating a medication to improve a patient’s health or reduce the risk of adverse effects.

Raman-Wilms also co-authored a recent article in the journal Medical Science Educator that proposes a curricular framework for an interprofessional approach to deprescribing.

“What’s most important is that we’re getting the information out there,” she said.

Raman-Wilms recalled that early in her career, she assessed an elderly patient who couldn’t communicate or interact. She reviewed his numerous medications, checking for the optimal dosage of appropriate drugs.

“After a process of deprescribing, his family was astonished to hear him speak for the first time in 10 years,” she said.

Dr. Alex Singer, associate professor of family medicine, is also working to encourage deprescribing. He is involved in a cross-Canada study that will assess whether following a specific process helps family practices improve care for patients 65 years or older who are taking 10 or more medications.

Participating doctors will reduce potentially inappropriate prescriptions for drugs such as sedative-hypnotics.

Streamlining nurses’ pathway

Kimberly Workum speaks to nurses in the Philippines.
Kimberly Workum (seated) speaks to nurses in the Philippines.

The College of Nursing joined a Manitoba government delegation to the Philippines in February to help recruit nurses to the province.

Senior instructor Kimberly Workum represented the college on the trip, which resulted in letters of interest to 240 nurses.

Nurses trained outside Canada must complete a clinical competency assessment and address identified gaps in their competency before being licensed in Manitoba. UM is playing a role in streamlining this process.

Assessing nurses virtually while they are in the Philippines allows for a remediation plan to be put in place before they arrive in Manitoba, Workum said.

The College of Nursing’s immersive virtual reality (VR) training platform has potential for competency assessments, Workum said. A candidate could wear a VR headset in the Philippines and enter the same virtual “room” as assessors wearing headsets in Manitoba.

Another component of streamlining involves the province’s undergraduate nurse employee (UNE) program, which allows third-year nursing students to work alongside licensed nurses while gaining experience.

Qualified internationally trained nurses can now be employed as UNEs while they are completing the requirements to be licensed, Workum said.

Doctors Manitoba honorees have strong ties to UM

In May, the winners of the 2023 Doctors Manitoba Awards were honoured at a gala. Here are the nine recipients, all of whom have ties to the Max Rady College of Medicine:

Headshot of Ryan Zarychanski.
(Photo: Doctors Manitoba)

PHYSICIAN OF THE YEAR: Dr. Ryan Zarychanski [B.Sc./95, B.Sc. (Med.)/00], professor of internal medicine, for leading groundbreaking work during the pandemic to rapidly assess potential treatments for COVID-19.





Headshot of Maggie Morris.
(Photo: Doctors Manitoba)

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD: Dr. Maggie Morris [M.Ed/10], professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, for serving Manitobans for nearly 40 years as a physician, educator and leader in women’s health.





Headshot of Tamara McColl.
(Photo: Doctors Manitoba)

HUMANITARIAN AWARD: Tamara McColl [B.Sc./07, B.Sc. (Med.)/11, MD/11], director of education scholarship and faculty development in emergency medicine, for work supporting the Ukrainian community in Manitoba and Ukraine.





Headshot of Alwyn Gomez.
(Photo: Doctors Manitoba)

RESIDENT OF THE YEAR: Dr. Alwyn Gomez, neurosurgery resident and PhD student in human anatomy and cell science, for research on traumatic brain injury and dedication to supporting medical education.





Headshot of Biniam Kidane.
(Photo: Doctors Manitoba)

MEDAL OF EXCELLENCE: Dr. Biniam Kidane, assistant professor of surgery, for maintaining care despite pandemic disruptions to hospital services, and for leadership in minimally invasive thoracic surgery and interventional endoscopy.





Headshot of Courtney Leary.
(Photo: Doctors Manitoba)

MEDAL OF EXCELLENCE: Courtney Leary [B.Sc./04, MD/08], chief of staff at Norway House Hospital and Clinic, for leadership in developing a new Health Centre of Excellence and in the community’s pandemic response.





Katherine Kearns and Christina Raimondi.
(Photo: Doctors Manitoba)

MEDAL OF EXCELLENCE: Dr. Katherine Kearns, assistant professor of family medicine, and Christina Raimondi [B.Sc./00, MD/04], lecturer in family medicine, for jointly establishing the Winnipeg Breastfeeding Centre.




Headshot of Michael Loudon.
(Photo: Doctors Manitoba)

MEDAL OF EXCELLENCE: Dr. Michael Loudon, clinical teacher at the Max Rady College of Medicine, for dedication to physician health through efforts such as leading peer support programming.

Award winners share passion for dental research

Md Mahamudul Haque stands next to his research poster.
Md Mahamudul Haque

The award for the best basic research poster at the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry’s Research Day in April went to Md Mahamudul Haque.

Haque, a PhD student in oral biology, examined the interaction between a bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay and a fungus present in oral cavities.

“Our research shed light on understanding significant synergistic relationships between mixed-species biofilms,” said Haque, whose advisor is Dr. Kangmin Duan, professor of oral biology.

Awards for the best clinical posters went to two dentists who are residents in prosthodontics: Dr. Paul Mikhail [B.Sc./08] and Dr. Ana Schettini.

Mikhail’s poster presented a case in which he gave a patient a new bite using crowns and removable partial dentures.

Schettini’s poster explained her treatment of a patient who needed a maxillary obturator, a prosthesis that replaces part of the palate.

“Understanding the materials available and being up-to-date with the current technology … can increase the treatment options and quality of the treatment provided to our patients,” she said.

Students plan therapy program in First Nation community

Occupational therapy students at the College of Rehabilitation Sciences are developing a much-needed day program for adults with disabilities in Sagkeeng First Nation.

The program will be located in a new 10-unit housing complex that’s being developed in Sagkeeng as part of Kiga mamo anokimin onji minoayawin, a partnership between the college and 10 Manitoba First Nation communities. The building is slated to open in 2024.

Five second-year master of occupational therapy students are planning the program as a community engagement project. “This gives me an opportunity to understand First Nations culture,” said student Mila Panaskevich.

The day program will serve adults aged 18 to 55 who have physical or cognitive disabilities. Activities in the program may include gardening, cooking and drum-making.

“Cultural safety and relational accountability are central to this collaboration,” Panaskevich said. “We are grateful to work alongside the community in order to make the day program personally and culturally meaningful for participants.”

New portrait honours former dean

Brian Postl stands in front of his portrait, which hangs on a wood-paneled wall.Brian Postl [MD/76], who retired in June 2022 as dean of the Max Rady College of Medicine and the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, has joined other former deans in receiving a boardroom portrait in the Chown Building on the Bannatyne campus.

Artist Andrew Valko was commissioned to paint the likeness.

Postl, a specialist in community medicine and pediatrics, was appointed dean of medicine in 2010. He led the complex integration of what are now the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry, Max Rady College of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy and Rehabilitation Sciences into a single faculty of health sciences, becoming the new entity’s dean, as well as vice-provost (health sciences), in 2014.

He retired as one of Manitoba’s most influential health-care leaders. In 2020, he was appointed to the Order of Canada for his advancement of clinical and academic health care in the province.

Headshot of Netha Dyck.Dr. Netha Dyck [BN/88], dean of the College of Nursing, has had her term extended until Jan. 31, 2025.

Dyck, who holds a doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of Calgary, has been in the position since 2018.

In addition to leading the recent 120-seat expansion of the bachelor of nursing program, Dyck’s many accomplishments include recruiting Indigenous faculty and staff and establishing the new bachelor of midwifery program.

Dyck has been recognized with numerous honours, including being named a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Nursing.

Headshot of Pawan Singal.Dr. Pawan Singal, professor of physiology and pathophysiology at UM and principal investigator/former director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at St. Boniface Hospital, passed away in June.

Singal completed degrees in India before earning his PhD in Alberta and joining the UM faculty in 1982.

He was known internationally for his work on oxidative stress and heart failure through more than 300 publications.

Singal’s many honours included an honorary doctor of laws from the University of Winnipeg.

Headshot of Ruth Ann Marrie.The National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the U.S. recently honoured Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie, professor of internal medicine and community health sciences, with the prestigious Barancik Prize for Innovation in Multiple Sclerosis Research.

Marrie, a neurologist, holds the Waugh Family Chair in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and leads the MS Clinic at Health Sciences Centre.

The prize recognizes Marrie for her groundbreaking research, including her work showing the influence of comorbidities such as high blood pressure and heart disease on MS-related health outcomes.