Great Week for Research

Last week was a wonderful week for research at the CoM, with two major celebrations in our D-Wing atrium.

Kudos to Dr. Marek Radomski and our research office for organizing a celebration on Monday for all of the recipients of Tri-Council (Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) awards.

But the real kudos go to our successful researchers, listed below. It was truly inspiring listening to each describe his or her research with such enthusiasm. And the diversity was quite remarkable—from biomedical discovery work at the bench to community-engaged research in northern Indigenous communities.

CIHR Project Grant
Dr. John Howland
Dr. Jim Xiang
CIHR Catalyst Grant
Dr. David Cooper
Dr. Vivian Ramsden
CIHR Planning and Dissemination Grant
Dr. Sylvia Abonyi
Dr. Caroline Tait
CIHR Training Grant: Indigenous Mentorship Network Program, Saskatchewan
Dr. Caroline Tait
NSERC Discovery Grant
Dr. Dean Chapman
Dr. Troy Harkness
Dr. Oleg Dmitriev
Dr. Erique Lukong
Dr. Scott Napper
Dr. Scot Stone
Dr. Peter Howard
Dr. Kerri Kobryn
Dr. Maruti Uppalapati

Great science is required for all Tri-Council awards. However, CIHR grants are exceptionally competitive, and seem to be more so every year. The two CIHR grants by Dr. John Howland and Dr. Jim Xiang were in a national competition that saw only 16.5 per cent of applications succeed. In addition, Dr. Deborah Anderson and Dr. Franco Vizeacoumar did well with their CIHR applications and the CoM was able to provide them with bridge funding this year. Our CIHR success is great evidence of progress in research at the CoM.

One thing I noted was the number of researchers who highlighted that their CoMGRAD grant or their Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) grant was instrumental in getting preliminary data or making other progress that led to their national award. It has been part of my elevator speech with our partners and funders that great people (researchers, grad students, post-doctoral fellows), great facilities and local funding are all essential to achieve success in Tri-Council competitions and with other national granting agencies.

On Tuesday, the CoM hosted our partners, SHRF and Heart & Stroke (Canada and Saskatchewan), as we announced and celebrated the renewal of Dr. Mike Kelly’s Saskatchewan Research Chair in Clinical Stroke Research for another five years. Particularly inspiring was the description provided by recovered stroke victim Don Bickerdike and his wife of the great care they received from the entire stroke team in our Saskatoon Health Region.

Mike—with an MD, neurosurgical training and a PhD—is a true bench-to-bedside researcher, who is from our college and university, and is changing care in Saskatchewan. In fact, his stroke research relies heavily on the synchrotron, taking advantage of key local resources. The CoM is very pleased to provide $100,000 per year over five years towards a total award of $1.5 million. Given the impact of the first five years of this chair, it was clear our partners at Heart & Stroke and SHRF were equally enthusiastic about Dr. Kelly and the great work he and his team are doing in stroke research and care.

Congratulations to our successful researchers. I know their success will be an inspiration to all, and we can look forward together to next year and seeing even more applications and more success!

As always I look forward to your feedback.

Advancing social accountability at our college

Guest blog from the Division of Social Accountability

Social accountability is not a new concept here at the College of Medicine. It continues to be a principle and lens that guides our actions. It permeates discourse in medical schools both nationally and internationally. Much has changed in the past year in terms of social accountability within our college.

Every student, every faculty and staff can support social accountability in the college. We are doing a great deal already.  Among our national and international colleagues working in this area, our college is looked upon as a leader in the area of social accountability, and we aspire to continue to measure up to our reputation. At the same time, we recognize that there is still much more to do. The division continues to collaborate and support college-wide strategies for building a culture of engagement and social accountability, working in partnership with our internal and external stakeholders towards integrating social accountability into the four areas of CARE. An overview of activities supported by the Social Accountability Committee was shared at the college’s May 2017 Faculty Council meeting.

Much work has been put into assisting the college through the accreditation process, particularly in light of the new CACMS accreditation element 1.1.1. Social Accountability. We have been working closely with the accreditation team to identify sources of information and outline processes for 1.1.1. (as well as other accreditation elements with social accountability components) and began the process of drafting measures of social accountability to capture progress to date and long-term impact. We look forward to sharing progress on those measures at the upcoming September 2017 Faculty Council meeting.

This past year, the team has been working closely with various internal units in the College of Medicine to advance social accountability. We were excited to see the college approve implementation of a Diversity and Social Accountability Admissions Program, put forward by the Admissions Committee after consultation with the division and the Social Accountability Committee. We received valuable feedback at the pilot of the Social Accountability Lens at the December Curriculum Retreat and continue to work with the UGME Curriculum Committee and its subcommittees to build social accountability into the foundation of the curriculum. We drafted an annual communique identifying priority health needs rooted in social issues, which was distributed to course chairs for integration into curriculum planned. A masters of public health practicum research project that began last summer is continuing into phase 2 this year with an appreciative inquiry of how Canadian medical schools are putting social accountability into action. The division continues to engage internally to expand capacity and understanding of social accountability in theory and in practice, co-presenting at grand rounds with various departments. Further, the division was fully engaged on many of the working groups and full-day sessions for CoM strategic planning and was enthused to hear such a strong emphasis on social accountability from numerous attendees.

Other areas of focus and activity have included global and Indigenous health opportunities in partnership with the Global Health Committee and the Indigenous Health Committee. We continue to manage the Making the Links global health certificate program with fifteen positions for first-year medical students each year. The two-year program was recently expanded to support students interested in an Indigenous Health Stream. With the help of the college’s Aboriginal Admissions Coordinator, Val Arnault-Pelletier, we expanded our community partnerships last year to include Kawacatoose First Nation in southeast Saskatchewan and rural and remote Indigenous communities in Townsville, Australia. We also partnered with various internal and external committees to put on numerous global health events this year, including our fifth annual student-led Global Health Conference: Sustain the Gains, a documentary screening of On the Bride’s Side, and community and on-campus conversations with speakers Dr. Ted Schreker and Dr. Eric Lachance. The Global Health Travel Awards Subcommittee updated the award program this year to better align with learner, faculty and college needs and now runs two award cycles per year. We have also been working to identify opportunities for mutually beneficial community-university partnerships and collaborations (e.g., SPRP/Health Region Poverty Reduction Strategy Consultation; YXE Connects).

On the people side of the division, in December, we welcomed back Carlyn Seguin, who had previously been away on maternity leave. We said goodbye to division head, Dr. Ryan Meili, and welcomed Dr. Eddie Rooke as acting director.  Erin Wolfson, Lisa Yeo and Joanna Winichuk all celebrated their one-year anniversaries with the division.

We continue to build a greater understanding of the ever-changing needs of the college and the larger community it serves. Reflecting our commitment to being responsive, relevant and accountable to our communities locally and globally, we expanded the roles within the Division of Social Accountability. This will allow the college to build on its existing strengths, programs and commitment to meaningful engagement, locally and globally. Some of the DSA staff roles and responsibilities have changed to reflect this commitment, and we share our staff information here to ensure you can connect effectively with us (contact information):

  • Carlyn Seguin continues to lead the management of the Making the Links – Certificate in Global Health (MTL-CGH) Program amongst various global health activities, in the position of Global Health Manager.
  • Lisa Yeo continues to provide strategic leadership, planning and project support in the Social Accountability Strategist position, serving as a resource to many areas of the college with a keen focus on measurement and evaluation.
  • Erin Wolfson has recently moved into the role of Community Engagement Specialist, expanding the college’s capacity and commitment to ethical collaboration and authentic engagement with communities. This involves enhancing and building community-university relationships and interdisciplinary collaborations that build health equity and respond to priority health concerns of partners and communities.
  • Joanna Winichuk, as Clerical Assistant, continues to provide invaluable administrative support to the team and to the MTL-CGH program, with an expanded focus on communications in the upcoming year.
  • Eddie Rooke has taken on the role of Acting Director, promoting and expanding capacity in social accountability throughout the college, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students, and liaising with internal and external partners to advance the vision of health equity.

Our division was established in 2011 to promote and support the college’s social accountability promise – a promise to direct its Clinical, Advocacy, Research and Education (CARE Model) activities towards the priority health needs of the communities we serve. We see this promise reflected in the 2017-2022 College of Medicine Strategic Plan and mission statement of our college. It’s a promise to address community health needs, but it’s also much more than that.

There is still much more to be done. With a focus on accreditation in preparation for our college’s full accreditation visit in the fall, the team continues to respond to incoming requests. We continue to engage with our partners internationally and some of the team recently attended the Social Accountability World Summit (check out the social accountability blog page in the coming weeks for learnings and invaluable resources from the summit).

We are excited for all that is to come and look forward to continuing to support the CoM in meeting the needs of the people of Saskatchewan and achieving health equity. We thank Dr. Ryan Meili, our former division head, who helped advance social accountability here for more than 10 years.

For more on the division, visit our webpage!

Medical education at the CoM

I attended events last week here at the College of Medicine that were great examples of medical education expertise and scholarship and, for me, inspire great confidence in our college.

On Thursday night, I attended Surgical Grand Rounds. Drs. Cole Beavis of the Saskatoon Health Region and Gordon Kaban of the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region combined to do a great presentation at Saskatoon City Hospital on the use of simulation in surgical education. They covered the pedagogy and tools of effective simulation, including a discussion on debriefing. They provided many great examples of hi-tech simulation tools and more frugal approaches, including a trip to Rona to construct a simulation tool for emergency cricothyrotomy (emergency airway puncture).

In the Health Sciences Building, we have secured space for a surgical simulation facility and our advancement team is working with Drs. Beavis and Ivar Mendez (unified head of our Department of Surgery) to raise funds for simulation equipment. RQHR has had the advantage of the Dilawri Simulation Center since 2012, due to a generous donation from the Dilawri Foundation.

On Friday, the Department of Medicine had its Resident Research Days. I have had a chance to review the abstracts for the posters and oral presentations. They were excellent and I am told the quantity and quality have improved dramatically this year. Congratulations to the residency program director, Dr. Karen LaFramboise and the assistant program director for research for the Internal Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Terra Arnason. The Department of Medicine had its Research Day for faculty earlier in the week, on Tuesday.

The week was capped off for the Department of Medicine with its Research Days Banquet & Faculty Awards at Marquis Hall on Friday. There was a great turnout of faculty and residents on a beautiful evening on our campus. Many awards for both faculty and residents were handed out. I would like to highlight four awards Dr. Sam Haddad, the unified head of medicine, has instituted, and their recipients from the Department of Medicine:

  • Researcher of the Year – Dr. John Gordon, Dr. Debra Morgan
  • Teacher of the Year – Dr. Anne Paus Jenssen
  • Clinician of the Year – Dr. Hassan Masri
  • Administrator of the Year – Dr. Erik Paus Jenssen

The evening was capped off as all of the finishing postgraduate learners in year 3 were introduced along with their next program and destination that will see them complete their postgraduate education. Congratulations also to these residents and the department for its huge success in the Canadian Resident Matching Service!

Finally, this past Friday was our first annual Medical Education Research and Scholarship Day. This initiative was led by our Director of Faculty Development, Dr. Cathy Maclean, who with her usual energy, enthusiasm and organization, did a fabulous job. We had over 50 participants, as well as guest speaker Dr. Doug Myhre from University of Calgary, 16 posters, 45 abstracts, three oral presentations and various workshops. It was a great day and a great example of our strategic priority to improve medical education scholarship and research here at the College of Medicine.

After those two days of seeing such commitment to the College of Medicine and so many dedicated researchers and educators doing great work, I felt I really deserved a great weekend’s rest. I was bacheloring it this weekend as my wife Jane and our dog Murphy are at the Canadian Association of Emergency Physician’s meeting in Whistler where Murphy is sitting by a research poster that documents the impact of a therapy dog in the Emergency Room! So my “rest” was cleaning and painting my garage!! I hope you all had a better weekend than that. But if you want to see a really neat garage, come by anytime.

As always I welcome your feedback.