From left to right, Dr. David Eidelman, Dr. Srividya Iyer, Dr. Nicole Li-Jessen and Dr. Robert Carlin (Photo: Owen Egan)

On November 27, 2017, the McGill University Faculty of Medicine celebrated the 2017 winners of the Maude Abbott, Haile T. Debas and Rosemary Wedderburn Brown Prizes, Dr. Srividya Iyer, Dr. Robert Carlin and Dr. Nicole Li-Jessen respectively. During an evening event held in Holmes Hall each laureate had the opportunity to provide a brief overview of their research and personal journey after having been presented with their respective award by Dr. David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.

Maude Abbott Prize

Dr. Srividya Iyer, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, is the 2017 winner of the Maude Abbott prize. Dr. Iyer’s research interests lie in improving access to and quality of mental health care for young people in Canada and around the globe, particularly in India. This includes young people with serious mental health problems such as psychosis. “This research is important because there is evidence that the majority of mental health problems, including major ones, begin in late adolescence and early adulthood,” says Dr. Iyer.

Dr. Iyer, who completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and her postdoctoral work under the supervision of Dr. Ashok Malla at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a researcher at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre. In addition to the Maude Abbott Prize, earlier this year she was elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists and at spring convocation was awarded the Principals Prize for Outstanding Emerging Researchers.

The Maude Abbott prize was established in 2010 by the Faculty of Medicine to recognize outstanding female Faculty members who excel in Education, Research or Administration with a focus at the early career stage. Maude Abbott was one of the first women to obtain a bachelor’s degree in arts from McGill University, and one of Canada’s earliest female medical graduates, although from Bishop’s. She was also an expert on congenital heart disease.

“Winning a prize named after Dr. Maude Abbott is especially meaningful,” says Dr. Iyer. “People like her challenged the status quo all those years ago and paved the way in academia for subsequent generations of women. It is encouraging to be recognized, especially because women in science still face challenges that their male colleagues often don’t encounter.”

Haile T. Debas Prize

The 2017 Haile T. Debas prize was awarded to Dr. Robert Carlin, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine.

A member of the McGill MDCM Class of 1995, Dr. Carlin completed his residency training in Family Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital/CLSC Côte-des-Neiges. Appointed as a Faculty Lecturer in the Department of Family Medicine in 1999, he is one of the key teachers at the CLSC Métro and is Public Health Director for the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (Eeyou Istchee). Dr. Carlin has devoted considerable focus to health equity and marginalized populations in his teaching and was instrumental in the creation of the service-learning curriculum at McGill known as the Community Health Alliance Project (CHAP) for which he currently serves as Course Director.

The Haile T. Debas prize was also established in 2010 to promote equitable diversity at all levels in the Faculty of Medicine by recognizing a Faculty member who helps promote diversity, which could be by acting as role a model or mentor, or by implementing new approaches to increase underrepresented minorities. Haile T. Debas is a McGill Alumnus recognized internationally for his pioneering contributions to academic medicine, as well as to global health.

“I am deeply honoured to be the recipient of the 2017 Haile T. Debas Award,” says Dr. Carlin. “I am so pleased to be part of an academic institution that recognizes the need to promote equitable diversity at all levels in the Faculty of Medicine. The promotion of diversity, and the inclusion of underrepresented minorities takes the involvement and implication of more than one person. As such, I would like to thank my clinical colleagues, of all disciplines, at CLSC Métro for providing an environment that works to provide services to a diverse and sometimes marginalized clientele. I would like to thank my colleagues at the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay for inspiring me and widening my understanding of indigenous realities. And, I would like to thank all of the Montreal community organizations who have worked with students as part of the Community Health Alliance Project course in providing insights into the different challenges lived by our fellow citizens and exposing what we can do collectively to improve the health of our communities.”

Rosemary Wedderburn Brown Prize

The 2017 Rosemary Wedderburn Brown prize was awarded to Professor Nicole Li-Jessen, Assistant Professor at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Dr. Li-Jessen conducts pioneering research on the wound healing response in vocal fold injuries, one of the most common communication disorders across the human lifespan (highly prevalent in those who use their voice intensively, such as actors, singers, and teachers). Her work informs questions about vocal fold biology and engineering, vocal injury and recovery, and personalized medicine in the area of voice treatment. She is also a tireless advocate who is promoting voice research nationally and internationally by educating clinicians and the public with up-to-date research on voice care, as the National Coordinator of World Voice Day in Canada. She has partnered with different units on campus to raise vocal awareness in the community, has engaged her students to develop and deliver voice training workshops to student teachers and singing students at McGill as well as workshops to transgender populations in Montreal for voice transition. Her students were the first at McGill to participate in the Wikipedia educational initiative, Wikiedu.

The Rosemary Wedderburn Brown Prize recognizes Faculty members in the Schools of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Nursing and Physical and Occupational Therapy with outstanding scholarly potential and demonstrated research excellence in the early stages of their career. Rosemary Wedderburn Brown, also a McGill alumnus, was a renowned advocate dedicated to equality and rights for women, minorities and the disadvantaged. She was also the first Black Woman Elected to a Canadian Provincial Legislature.

“I am very grateful to be the recipient of this year’s Rosemary Wedderburn Brown Prize,” says Dr. Li-Jessen. “This is a very humbling award and my first career award. I would like to thank the Faculty of Medicine for this prize. I would also like to thank all my students and colleagues at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders and across McGill for their continued support and faith in me. I always feel that I have done nothing but learn from them. I am very grateful to work with all these giants and have very big shoes to fill in the years to come.”

Congratulations to all three laureates!

November 29, 2017