Portraits pay tribute to medical trailblazers

A portrait gallery has been installed in the Brodie Centre to recognize Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) laureates who are associated with the U of M.

Each year, the Hall of Fame in London, Ont. inducts six Canadian medical heroes whose extraordinary contributions have advanced human health. To date, 10 alumni or faculty members from the U of M have received this national honour.

“We want those who walk past these portraits every day to be inspired by the achievements of those who came before them,” said Brian Postl [MD/76], dean of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

The most recently inducted laureates include allergy expert Estelle Simons [MD/69] and geneticist Dr. Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg. The two renowned clinician-scientists were honoured with a reception in November and posed with their portraits, along with other laureates.

Dr. Naranjan Dhalla, a U of M distinguished professor of physiology and founding director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in May 2019.

Adjacent to the portraits, a plaque honours U of M students who have received the CMHF Award, recognizing future physicians who show potential as leaders and innovators. Linda Lam [B.Sc.(Hons.)/15], a thirdyear medical student, is the U of M’s latest recipient of this award.

‘Extra-special class’ embarks on PharmD journey

A ceremony this fall marked a milestone as the first students destined to graduate from the new Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) undergraduate degree program were cloaked in their inaugural white coats.

“You are an extra-special class for us,” Dr. Lalitha Raman-Wilms, dean of the College of Pharmacy, told the Class of 2023 at the White Coat Ceremony in early October.

The 55 students will complete one year of the soon-to-be-discontinued Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy) program before transitioning to the PharmD program for a further four years of study. The new program offers an advanced curriculum with significantly more experiential learning.

There will be no intake of pharmacy students in Fall 2019, then the intake of fouryear PharmD students will start in 2020.

Christine Vaccaro [B.Sc./18], president of the Class of 2023, said what really sealed her decision to pursue a pharmacy career was the profession’s expanded scope of practice, which now includes injection certification, prescribing for minor ailments, and in some cases, ordering lab tests.

“It highlights that pharmacy is an evolving profession,” Vaccaro said. “I’m looking forward to evolving alongside pharmacy, taking on the profession as it expands into a more clinical role.”

Project enhances health and wellness in First Nations communities

Children with disabilities in Lake Manitoba First Nation will soon have a culturally inclusive and accessible playground, thanks to a collaborative project involving the College of Rehabilitation Sciences.

“The design is modelled after the four directions of the medicine wheel,” said Debra Beach Ducharme [B.Ed./85, PBCont.Ed./96, M.Ed./09], director of Indigenous health integration for Ongomiizwin, the Rady Faculty’s Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing. “The decking around the arbour will be safe for children in wheelchairs, and they will access children’s activities in each of the four directions.”

The playground is part of a partnership between the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ongomiizwin and six First Nations communities. The project is called Kiga mamo anokimin onji minoayawin (“We will work together for health and wellness”).

The other communities currently involved are Norway House Cree Nation, Bloodvein First Nation, Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Misipawistik Cree Nation and Pinaymootang First Nation. Beach Ducharme and Dr. Reg Urbanowski, dean of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, have visited the communities to discuss their needs.

Additional highlights of the project include a program in Pinaymootang for young adults with disabilities, research on climate change in Misipawistik Cree Nation, and a health fair in the community of Bloodvein.

Learning from communities, and each other


Students from the College of Rehabilitation Sciences had the opportunity in June to be immersed in health-care settings in northern Indigenous communities and develop skills in inter-professional collaboration thanks to the RBC Experiential Learning Travel Initiative.

Six students from occupational, physical and respiratory therapy were among 21 from Rady Faculty programs – including dentistry, dental hygiene, medicine, nursing and pharmacy – who took part in the practice experience supported by RBC.

Fisher River Cree Nation, Lake Manitoba First Nation, Misipawistik Cree Nation, Norway House Cree Nation and Pinaymootang First Nation each hosted a student group for two weeks.

“Through developing relationships in the community, students learn how our colonial history impacts health. They take away lessons on the importance of cultural safety,” said Lisa Mendez [BMROT/99, MOT/12], interprofessional practice coordinator. “At the same time, the experience fosters inter-professional learning between students from different programs.”

One student wrote, “By the end… all of my group talked seriously about incorporating Northern practice into our careers, because of the positive experience we had in the community.”

Community members said the program helped to dispel stigma, provided educational role models for youth and enabled local people to share their culture with the students.

College of Nursing to launch midwifery degree

There’s exciting news for students with career aspirations to provide pregnancy-related health care and support mothers in birthing babies.

The College of Nursing plans to introduce a new four-year, full-time bachelor of midwifery program. It will offer high-quality educational opportunities that include flexible learning (in-class and online) and innovations such as simulation learning and integration of tutorials with clinical practice.

The bachelor of midwifery program will be unique in providing a high concentration of clinical practice hours (80 per cent) and clinical practice placements in a wide variety of settings across Manitoba in urban, rural and remote communities.

Another unique aspect of the program is that knowledge of traditional Indigenous midwifery practices will be threaded throughout the course work. Indigenous students will receive personal and academic support through the Aboriginal Nursing Cohort Initiative within the College of Nursing.

The four-year program includes one preparatory year (University 1). Six students will enter the program each year, with up to 50 per cent of the seats designated for Indigenous students. Pending approval of the program by the University Senate, the first intake will take place in September 2019.

Events encourage Rady Faculty graduate studies

Several new events have been launched by the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences with the aim of recruiting outstanding graduate students and enhancing their experience in master’s and PhD programs.

In February 2018, a Health Sciences Industry Fair was organized by the Health Sciences Graduate Students’ Association (HSGSA) and U of M Career Services to help students investigate job opportunities and connect with employers.

In June 2018, the Rady Faculty and the Faculty of Graduate Studies co-hosted the first Open House for prospective grad students. The day featured Bannatyne campus tours, presentations on graduate programs, networking opportunities and an “information village” where students could visit departments’ booths.

“This is a great opportunity for students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds to explore their options,” said Hope Anderson [B.Sc.(Hons.)/92, PhD/97], vice-dean of graduate studies for the Rady Faculty. “We hope students from all faculties consider graduate studies in the health sciences.”

In Fall 2018, the HSGSA and the Faculty of Graduate Studies co-hosted orientation events for graduate students.

All the events will be offered again in 2019. The Rady Faculty is also supporting graduate students by introducing an annual achievement prize and, in partnership with Research Manitoba, 10 new entrance scholarships of $7,500 each.

Health-career pathways introduced at bachelor’s level

Students interested in health-related careers that combine biological science with social science have new educational pathways to choose from at the U of M.

In September, three new concentrations were introduced within the four-year bachelor of health studies program. The degree is one of two under the Interdisciplinary Health Program (IHP), a joint program between the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and the faculties of Arts and Science.

“This degree is a great fit for students who are interested in the planning, administration and delivery of health services, or in working with the public in health promotion, education and support,” said Mark Nachtigal [B.Sc./87, PhD/93], director of the IHP.

The degree focuses primarily on the social science aspects of health. Students study on the Fort Garry campus, taking courses in departments such as economics, sociology, native studies and community health sciences.

The new concentrations are in Health Policy, Planning and Evaluation, which may lead to careers such as health policy analyst; Health Promotion and Education, which enables future home economics teachers to obtain their “teachable subjects” in family studies and nutrition; and Family Health, which provides a foundation for careers such as youth care worker.

‘True believer in people’ honoured at dentistry gala

A dentist who has combined two U of M degrees into a unique career was honoured by his dental peers at the Alumni of Distinction Awards gala in September.

Marcel Van Woensel [B.Sc.(Dent.)/94, DMD/94, LLB/02] earned a law degree while practising dentistry in rural Manitoba. He has served on many dentistry boards and as registrar of the Manitoba Dental Association.


Now a part-time instructor at the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry, Van Woensel teaches dental jurisprudence, dealing with the relationship between dentistry, ethics and the legal system. “I’m a true believer in people,” he said in accepting the award from the U of M Dental Alumni Association (UMDAA). “I find that when you give people the opportunity to stand up and do the right thing, they almost always will.”

The U of M School of Dental Hygiene Alumni Association presented its Alumni of Distinction Award to Gayle Halas [Dip.D.Hyg./87, PhD/16], research director for family medicine in the Max Rady College of Medicine. Halas has built upon her foundation in dental hygiene to become an outstanding health-care researcher, educator and leader.

Dr. Colin Dawes, professor emeritus, was awarded honorary membership in the UMDAA for his 54 years of dedicated service to the dental college.

College of Nursing awards first PhD in cancer control

David Busolo [PhD/18] has become the first graduate of the College of Nursing’s PhD program in cancer control.

Busolo earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing in his home country of Kenya, followed by his master’s in public health in California.

While researching PhD programs focused on chronic diseases, he stumbled upon the U of M program. Encouraged by Roberta Woodgate [BN/89, MN/93, PhD/01], professor of nursing, CHRIM researcher and Canada Research Chair in child and family
engagement in health research and healthcare, Busolo arrived in Manitoba in 2011.

“The mentorship and training Dr. Woodgate provided, the kind of courses she guided me to take and the [research] projects she allowed me to work on… put me at a great level,” he said.

In 2015, Busolo conducted his doctoral research in Kenya on youths’ understanding of cancer risk and prevention. After defending his thesis in 2017, he accepted a position as assistant professor of nursing at the University of New Brunswick.


Panel highlights overmedication of seniors 


Nearly two-thirds of Canadians aged 65 and older take five or more prescription drugs.

In October, three College of Pharmacy faculty members addressed the topic “Poly-pharmacy: Are we overmedicating older Canadians?” at a free event at McNally Robinson Booksellers. The panel discussion, moderated by faculty member Dr. I fan Kuo, was part of the U of M’s Café Scientifique series.

The panelists emphasized the importance of regularly reviewing an older patient’s prescriptions to ensure that the drugs’ benefits outweigh their risks or harms, and that all medications fit with the patient’s quality-oflife goals.

“Decisions about medication really need to be individualized,” said Dr. Christine Leong [B.Sc.Pharm/10], assistant professor of pharmacy, noting that a particular drug may not affect a senior and a younger person in the same way.

Dr. Silvia Alessi-Severini, associate professor of pharmacy, described research findings gleaned from Manitoba’s health databases, such as the association between certain sedating medications and a higher risk of falls and motor vehicle accidents in the elderly population.

Dr. Jamie Falk [B.Sc.Pharm/97], assistant professor of pharmacy, said health-care professionals need to do better at de-prescribing patients from drugs that provide little or no benefit, and patients should ask questions such as “Do I really need to be on this medication?”

Watch the Video: umanitoba.ca/research/ cafescientifique/polypharmacy.html

Prestigious awards support grad student research

Taylor Morriseau [B.Sc.(Hons.)/17], a PhD student in the Max Rady College of Medicine, has received a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. The award is considered the Canadian equivalent of the Rhodes Scholarship.

Morriseau will study a gene variant that is strongly associated with Type 2 diabetes in Oji-Cree children. Supervised by scientists at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM), she will use mouse models to investigate whether a traditional Oji-Cree diet could quell the gene variant’s influence and prevent diabetes.

The Cree scientist feels driven to empower Indigenous youth. “I just had to find a way to pursue my passion, which is research, and merge that with my responsibility to uplift the next generation,” she said.

Dr. Christopher Pascoe, a postdoctoral fellow in the Max Rady College of Medicine, has been awarded a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. Pascoe is working in the lab of Andrew Halayko [M.Sc./88, PhD/97], who holds a U of M Canada Research Chair in chronic lung disease pathobiology/treatment and is a researcher at CHRIM.

Pascoe will investigate the association between artificial sweetener consumption during pregnancy and the risk of asthma in children.

Dentistry, Nursing partner to ‘see the whole patient’

An initiative to teach nurse practitioner students to assess oral health and dental students to evaluate overall health will be introduced into the curriculum in 2019.

The collaborative project between the College of Nursing and Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry is funded by the dental college’s International Centre for Oral-Systemic Health through grants that support interprofessional education and practice.

Nurses who are studying to become nurse practitioners will practise performing oral health exams to screen for concerns such as oral inflammation or severe tooth decay. Dentistry and dental hygiene students will gain experience with taking a complete medical history and recognizing signs that could point to undiagnosed disease.

All students will gain clinical experience in co-managing patients and developing integrated treatment plans.

“Our focus with this project is on underserved populations,” said Dr. Anthony Iacopino, dean of dentistry. “For example, a patient with economic challenges who doesn’t have access to regular medical care, but is seen for acute dental pain, could have systemic issues like diabetes that we want the dental team to recognize.’

“Similarly, we want nurse practitioners to have the knowledge to detect oral health concerns and make referrals. We’re training everyone to see the whole patient.”

New initiative brings WISDOM to Rady Faculty


An organization to connect, inspire and encourage women in science has been launched with support from the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

Women in Science, Development, Outreach and Mentorship (WISDOM) aims to boost the numbers, retention and status of academic women scientists through networking, mentorship, professional development and advocating for gender equity policies. The group is affiliated with the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology.

“Our goal is to address the underrepresentation of women in science, especially in leadership positions,” said the group’s chair, Dr. Neeloffer Mookherjee, associate professor of internal medicine and immunology and researcher at CHRIM. “We need to do a better job of providing the supports, mentorship and resources to allow women to succeed, advance and lead.”

Peter Nickerson [B.Sc.Med./86, MD/86], vice-dean research of the Rady Faculty, spoke at the launch event on behalf of Brian Postl [MD/76], dean of the Rady Faculty. Nickerson welcomed WISDOM as “an exciting step toward meeting our goals in equity, diversity and inclusion.” Anyone who supports WISDOM’s mandate can join as an active or affiliate member.
For more information, email: wisdommb@umanitoba.ca.