Awarding excellence

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Faculty of Medicine presents awards at annual faculty meeting

Posted by Kate Rogers on June 10, 2024 in News
The 2024 Faculty of Medicine Faculty Awards were presented on May 28, 2024. (Photo: Danny Abriel)
The 2024 Faculty of Medicine Faculty Awards were presented on May 28, 2024. (Photo: Danny Abriel)

On May 28, 2024, members of the Faculty of Medicine community gathered to recognize the contributions of faculty in the areas of research, education, and community service. 

Our strategic plan, Realizing Our Ambition, launched in 2023, articulates our commitment to respecting and appreciating the people who make our collective accomplishments possible. The strategic stream, Valuing People, focuses on what improvements or changes we can make as an organization to make the Faculty of Medicine a great place to work and study.  

The faculty awards, presented annually, are an opportunity to acknowledge hard work and ensure we create a positive work environment that fosters well-being and supports career growth. Importantly, this is just one way that we are striving for this goal. 

Below you will read about the many achievements and accomplishments of our award recipients.   

Award of Excellence in Education: Dr. David Gardner, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Gardner, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of Community Psychiatry Research, integrates new knowledge, clinical skills, evidence-based medicine, and patient-centered care in his comprehensive educational approach. He refines his strategies through reflection, feedback, and professional development to ensure their effectiveness. Recognized for his innovative teaching methods, he engages learners from medical students to residents with interactive sessions, real-time inputs, and pre-session assignments. His practical and relevant lectures are highly appreciated. Committed to lifelong learning, Dr. Gardner continuously seeks feedback and participates in professional development to maintain the impact and relevance of his teaching.

Early Career Award of Excellence in Education: Dr. Jaclyn LeBlanc, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, DMNB 

Since joining the faculty in 2019, Dr. LeBlanc has made exceptional contributions to medical education, drawing on her extensive experience as a pharmacist. Recognized for her teaching abilities, she has transformed infectious disease education through structured evaluations, consistent teaching, and diverse professional engagement. Beyond her formal roles, Dr. LeBlanc mentors residents in career planning and academic success, leaving a lasting impact with her compassionate and dedicated approach, and making her an exemplary role model in medical education. 

Award of Excellence in Clinical Practice: Dr. Michiel Van den Hof, Department of Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Dr. Van den Hof, a faculty member at Dalhousie since 1989, has been instrumental in developing maternal-fetal medicine services in the Maritimes. He introduced advanced prenatal ultrasound techniques and programs for prenatal screening, enhancing the early detection and treatment of fetal abnormalities and genetic disorders. A Dalhousie alumnus, Dr. Van den Hof is committed to educating and supporting future physicians. His expertise in maternal-fetal medicine, including in-utero fetal transfusions, has significantly improved patient outcomes and earned him wide respect.

Early Career Award of Excellence in Clinical Practice: Dr. Alison Dixon, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine

Since joining the Division of Geriatric Medicine in fall 2021, Dr. Dixon has been a devoted, patient-focused physician and leader. Highly valued from her residency to her current staff role, she established a novel Geriatric Medicine Movement Disorder clinic, addressing a critical gap in care for older adults. Beyond clinical practice, Dr. Dixon engages in teaching and research, contributing to her field's advancement. Her expertise in communication ensures clarity and empathy in healthcare delivery, enhancing patient outcomes and medical education. As an early career clinician, Dr. Dixon has significantly improved care for older adults with movement disorders in our region.

Community Teacher of the Year Award: Dr. Kendra Gilmore, Department of Family Medicine, Sussex, New Brunswick

Dr. Gilmore is an exemplary mentor who warmly welcomes medical students and supports them throughout their training, creating an empowering and motivating environment. Her compassionate, evidence-based approach to patient care improves health outcomes and benefits the community. As a skilled clinician, she embodies the qualities of an excellent family doctor, maintaining high standards of care and fostering a supportive learning atmosphere. Dr. Gilmore is an inspiration to both colleagues and students.

Award of Excellence in Teaching (PhD Faculty): Dr. Ross Davidson, Department of Pathology  

Since joining Dalhousie in 1998, Dr. Davidson has demonstrated unwavering commitment to teaching and mentoring. He developed Nova Scotia's first clinical microbiology fellowship training program and is known for his engaging teaching style, earning him multiple Professor of the Year awards. Beyond the classroom, his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, including training non-healthcare volunteers for testing, showcases his innovative approach and dedication to public health. Dr. Davidson's profound impact on medical education at Dalhousie reflects his commitment to excellence and student success. 

Early Career Excellence in Teaching (PhD Faculty): Dr. Shawn Xiong, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Dr. Xiong joined the faculty three years ago and since that time has made an immense contribution to medical education. He has revamped laboratory courses, implemented inquiry-based learning, and introduced flipped classrooms where students act as learning assistants. His initiatives, such as a peer mentorship program, have fostered engagement and interaction, creating a supportive learning environment. Dr. Xiong's passion for teaching is evident in his accessibility, responsiveness, and dedication to student success, offering one-on-one advising and creating resource centers for study and collaboration. Beyond the classroom, he contributes to program development and advocates for curriculum changes to enhance student progression and academic standards.

Dr. Allan Cohen Memorial Award for Community Service: Dr. Aruna Dhara, Department of Family Medicine

Dr. Aruna Dhara demonstrates exceptional dedication to her community by providing primary care to the Sipekneꞌkatik First Nation and ensuring her patients have access to necessary community supports. She advocates for systemic changes, like universal pharmacare, to address health disparities and enhance equity. As co-lead of Medical Humanities at Dalhousie, Dr. Dhara integrates humanities into medical education, enriching students' experiences and fostering a generation of physicians attuned to the intersection of health and humanities. Her leadership, ability to connect people, and commitment to addressing injustices highlight her influential role in her field.

Wayne Putnam Award: Dr. Babar Haroon, Department of Critical Care, and Associate Dean of Postgraduate Medical Education

From his earliest days as a faculty member, Dr. Haroon has shown a fierce commitment to improving the learning environment. His dedication to education is showcased through his extensive experience and leadership roles in various teaching and training programs. He pioneers novel learning approaches, enhancing experiences for learners and staff. A distinguished leader at Dalhousie and nationally, he contributes to advancing medical education standards through involvement in committees like the Canadian Critical Care Society and the Canadian Society of Internal Medicine. Dr. Haroon's expertise and dedication have made him a respected figure in the medical community and an invaluable asset to the institution.

Excellence in Basic Research Award: Dr. Graham Dellaire, Department of Pathology

Since joining the Departments of Pathology and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in 2007, Dr. Dellaire has made impressive research contributions, secured substantial grants, and published in prestigious journals. His expertise includes cancer biology, DNA repair, evolutionary molecular biology, and gene-editing. As Director of Research in Pathology since 2010, he has boosted research funding, collaborations, and opportunities for students and faculty, fostering interdepartmental and institutional partnerships. Dr. Dellaire's influence extends nationally and internationally through research initiatives, consulting for Health Canada, and peer reviewing for top grant agencies and journals. 

Early Career Investigator Award: Dr. Alexa Yakubovich, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology

Dr. Yakubovich has been a faculty member here at Dalhousie since 2021. Since then, she has shown remarkable productivity and impact in her research, securing over $4.8 million in grants and publishing 30 peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals. Her focus on violence against women and gender-diverse persons has influenced international policy. Through community-partnered studies, she has provided crucial insights into the pandemic's effects on survivors and service providers, collaborating with diverse stakeholders to ensure real-world relevance. Her research has gained international recognition, impacting policy and practice in Canada, the UK, Australia, and the USA. Dr. Yakubovich's leadership in pioneering projects like the Inter-Provincial Violence Against Women Project underscores her potential for continued significant contributions to her field.

Excellence in Clinical Research Award: Dr. Rudolf Uher, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Uher, a distinguished professor in psychiatry and Canada Research Chair in Early Intervention in Psychiatry, has made significant research contributions, securing grants exceeding $15.5M and developing innovative programs integrating research and clinical practice. Nationally and internationally, Dr. Uher leads projects like OPTIMUM-D, Canada’s largest depression clinical trial, and the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression. His global influence is evident from being named a highly-cited researcher five times and publishing over 340 papers in prestigious journals. Dr. Uher is also dedicated to mentoring, having guided 45 trainees across various levels. His innovative projects, such as FORBOW, address mental illness risk in children of affected parents, showcasing his exceptional contributions to clinical research.

Award for Excellence in Research Mentorship of Trainees: Dr. Leah Cahill, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology 

Dr. Cahill excels as a researcher and mentor, involving students in peer-review and publication processes, leading to high-impact collaborations and publications. She supports students in presenting research, resulting in prestigious awards and scholarships. Committed to mentorship, she maintains high standards and a nurturing environment, supporting her team's success even during challenging times like the pandemic. Dr. Cahill fosters inclusive communication, addresses discrimination, and enriches her students' professional and personal lives through her exemplary mentorship, making her an outstanding candidate for recognition.

Award for Excellence in Research Mentorship of Faculty: Dr. James Fawcett, Departments of Pharmacology and Surgery

Dr. Fawcett is widely recognized by faculty for providing exceptional mentorship and guidance, having a deep and enduring impact on both basic and clinician scientists. He guides junior faculty in securing research funding and offers detailed feedback on grant applications. Encouraging professional networking, he fosters collaborations and provides teaching advice for engaging lectures. Dr. Fawcett has been a strong advocate for the needs of new faculty, ensuring they have access to essential space and equipment. His leadership was particularly notable during extraordinary circumstances, such as the Tupper Building flood in 2023. Dr. Fawcett's mentorship extends throughout his mentees' careers, and his leadership on committees, such as chairing the Research Advisory Committee for CORES, demonstrates his commitment to a collaborative research environment. 

Excellence in Research Mentorship - Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Dr. Sandra Meier, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Meier is recognized for mentorship that transcends traditional boundaries. She tailors her guidance to the individual needs of each mentee, fostering an environment where academic excellence and personal growth coexist. Her commitment to long-term career development empowers mentees beyond immediate goals. Encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, she inspires innovative research and meaningful contributions to diverse fields. Dr. Meier fosters a supportive, inclusive environment in her lab, promoting collaboration, diversity, and excellence. Her leadership shapes academic trajectories and cultivates inclusivity and achievement in the academic community.

Award for Career Excellence in Research Mentorship: Dr. Susan Howlett, Department of Pharmacology

Dr. Howlett has a remarkable 25-year track record as a research mentor at Dalhousie. She has successfully supervised 22 students, guiding them into diverse careers as academic scientists, health professionals, and industry leaders. Fostering a supportive environment, she organizes social events promoting camaraderie and encourages mentees to pursue individual career goals. Dr. Howlett promotes collaboration and facilitates networking opportunities, nurturing innovative research endeavors that promote intellectual growth and success.

Program Director Award - Innovations in Postgraduate Education: Dr. Cheng Wang, Department of Pathology 

Since becoming General Pathology Residency Program Director in 2019, Dr. Wang has demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation. He smoothly implemented Competence By Design (CBD), developed tailored educational courses, and expanded community rotations, enhancing the program's quality and reach. Dr. Wang's unwavering commitment to resident education is evident in his personalized support, adaptability, and willingness to go beyond duties. Exemplifying an ideal role model and collaborator, he is respected for his patient care, support for colleagues, and research involvement, solidifying his leadership reputation.

Program Director’s Award – Leadership: Dr. David Horne, Division of Cardiac Surgery, Department of Surgery

Since 2018, Dr. Horne has led the Cardiac Surgery Residency Program with vision and dedication, serving locally and on national and international educational committees. Renowned for his kindness, he received the Dalhousie Program Director Innovator Award in 2020 for redesigning the program to meet Royal College competency requirements. Despite a busy clinical practice, including a year as the sole congenital heart surgeon in Atlantic Canada, he supports learners and advocates for their safety and growth. All seven residents under his guidance graduated with leading fellowships and attending positions. Dr. Horne prepares future cardiac surgeons for clinical excellence in a rapidly evolving medical landscape, steering numerous residents toward successful careers, solidifying his exceptional leadership.