It takes a village to accomplish great things. As another academic year comes to a close, Med e-News takes a look back at the events and happenings that marked the year and brought success to the Faculty of Medicine and its larger community, as shared during the recent Faculty Council & Town Hall Meeting.

On June 7, Vice-Principal of Health Affairs and Dean of Medicine, Dr. Richard I. Levin presented at the Faculty Council & Town Hall Meeting to a packed Bellini Atrium in the McGill Life Sciences Complex. Applause was resounding and culminated in a standing ovation as Dean Levin, who completes his term August 31, opened with words of praise and gratitude. “I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you,” he said. “It has been a great honour to work with the Faculty and the University.”

Among the first items on the agenda was the awarding of the Faculty’s inaugural Maude Abbott Prize. “I present this honour to a truly deserving investigator, a modern-day pioneer of science, to Dr. Maya Saleh,” said Dean Levin. The Maude Abbott Prize was established last year to celebrate outstanding Faculty women who are breaking new ground from the outset of their careers in education, research or administration.

The Dean also provided an update on the 2011 McGill budget cut exercise for which the Faculty numbers have been submitted. “The exercise will continue, so that we can build on the remarkable work that Maya and everyone in this room represents,” said the Dean. “The object is to trim where we can, to gain where we can.” An overview of the McGill Strategic Reframing Initiative (SRI), now entering the implementation stage, followed.

Time of constraint, but also success

True to the “It takes a village” theme, Dr. Levin applauded the members of the Faculty and network for their outstanding accomplishments over the year, from the recent convocation of more than 300 students in Medicine and the Schools and the very successful accreditation results to the impressive growth in MDCM applications (up 117% over 2010) and in MSc and PhD students (up 20.7% and 38.2% over three years). He updated colleagues on news, including the launch of the McGill Centre for Biomedical Innovation and the excellent 2011 NSERC funding results, as well as the Faculty’s fundraising record of $137.5 million, and counting.

2011 McGill MDCM graduates. Photo: Nicolas Morin

In recognition of the extraordinary number of laureates within the Faculty this year, the Dean highlighted some of the most recent, from l’Ordre du Québec and Medical Hall of Fame inductees to CAME award recipients, including Dr. Yvonne Steinert, and recent research luminaries and Ovation winners from our administration team. “It’s an extraordinary community, a remarkable village,” he said. “And I offer my personal congratulations to all who were honoured this year and throughout the years – all who have created the McGill Faculty of Medicine.”

Building scaffolds and communities

Looking back, Dean Levin remarked on the great changes he has seen, and the building that has occurred. “It’s not a village, it’s a city,” he said. “I think we have begun taking the necessary steps to build a health city on the road to becoming a centre of excellence in personalized medicine.” Among the building blocks: the Arnold and Blema Steinberg Simulation Centre, the Life Sciences Complex, the MUHC Glen Campus, the Jewish General Pavilion K, the Douglas Imaging Centre and the new St. Mary’s research centre. Earlier this year, a major step to position McGill and Quebec at the forefront of genomic research was also taken when Dr. Mark Lathrop was named Director of the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre.

Building Developments: Above left, the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre. Above right, laying the groundowrk for the JGH. Below left groundbreking work at the MUCH Glen Campus. Below right, the new Douglas Imaging Centre

“We’ve built community, as well as bricks and mortar,” continued the Dean, referring to the increased, diverse admissions applications and spike in MSc and PhD students. The Faculty’s new strategic recruits and unique, endowed University-Hospital Chairs have fortified this community, from Rod McInnes at the Lady Davis, Gerald Fried to head Surgery, John Breitner in Alzheimer’s disease, Vassilios Papadopoulos in the Phil Gold Chair in Medicine to Joachim Mandernas as the new Chair of Microbiology / Immunology, together with Jeannie Haggerty in the McGill Chair of Family and Community Medicine at St. Mary’s, Carmen Loiselle in the Christine & Herschel Victor Hope & Cope Foundation Chair in Psychosocial Oncology and the newly created Richard and Sylvia Cruess Chair in Medical Education, the list goes on.

(From left to right), Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos, Drs. Richard and Silvia Cruess, Dr. Carmen Loiselle.

Crucial programs targeting Quebec’s needs have also made great headway, such as the Faculty’s Family Medicine initiative. “Our efforts to underscore the pivotal role of Family Medicine as a career choice are paying off,” said Dean Levin. “Since 2002, we’ve more than doubled the number of McGill students entering this specialty, from 21 to 51.” Meanwhile, the McGill health city continues to grow in the regions, bringing much needed resources to underserved areas like the Outaouais. Add to that the new International Medical Graduates (IMGs) “clinical immersion program” at St. Mary’s and the new MDCM pathway for IMGs, both designed to facilitate the transition of foreign doctors into Quebec’s health system.

Quebec Health and Social Services Ministers, Dr. Yves Bolduc during 2010 McGill Family Medicine Student Symposium.

The Dean also commended the newly christened McGill Academic Health Network, comprised of the Faculty and affiliated network of hospitals, created to consolidate efforts, build on strengths and focus on delivering outstanding health care to Quebec society and beyond, a major advancement in the history of McGill’s health community.

On the international stage, the Dean paid special tribute to the visionaries behind projects such as the Healthier Societies Initiative, the McGill World Platform for Health and Economic Convergence and Price Waterhouse Coopers’ Bending the Cost Curve, a four-part, two-year global symposium series designed to create a network for sharing emerging best practices for which McGill is joint sponsor. The first meeting was held in Washington DC and the second in Amsterdam, both attended by the Dean and Minister of Health and Social Services Yves Bolduc.

2011 MDCM graduate Olivier Drouin traveled to Malawi as part of McGill's Institute for Health and Social Policy, to conduct research on community-based organizations, children, AIDS and poverty.

“These are the successes of many people,” said Dean Levin. “Through the Faculty Leadership Council, the Deans – the “Dream Team” – the Chairs, Directors of our affiliated network, the hundreds that came together as part of the Think Dangerously initiative, the Basic and Clinical scientific committees, and our administrative staff behind the scenes.” Outcomes of this initiative include a modernized Medicine curriculum, and the recommendation that we consider forming of a Faculty of Health Sciences, together with groundbreaking advances in recognition and promotion of faculty in the hospital network.

“It has been just incredible, all of these successes that have been brought by you, a remarkable Faculty, in a unique province, in what was to me a foreign country. It is foreign no more, because of your embrace from the very beginning,” said Dean Levin. “I sincerely thank you for the work that you continue to do to place us at the forefront in virtually every area of biomedical science. Though we’re in a period of transition, I have no doubt we all will do what we must, and that McGill will continue to grow to become ever greater in inventing the health sciences for 21st century.”

To Faculty Council & Town Hall presentation ►
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See below for more from 2010-2011:
Kudos ►
Breakthroughs and News ►
Developments and Announcements ►
Community Impact ►

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