By Lisa Dutton
McGill has doubled enrollment in its MDCM & PhD Program.  A career as a physician-scientist is extremely rewarding and meaningful. It is also challenging and requires creativity, perseverance and passion.  For more information about the MDCM & PhD Program, please contact Kimberly John at:
Meet Heather Whittaker, Class of 2024, one of the MDCM & PhD Program’s talented cohort of trainees.

Heather’s ambition is to help people living with a neurological illness enjoy as fulfilling a life as possible. After finishing her Master’s of Science (Clinical Neuroscience), she considered going right into a PhD program, but she hesitated because she didn’t want to immerse herself in the study of disease without treating patients. “The McGill MDCM & PhD Program is the ideal platform to learn to navigate the interface between science and medicine and to develop the synergy between researching a disease and caring for those living with it,” Heather says.

McGill epicenter of neuroscience research and care

Heather was drawn to the McGill program because it is an epicentre for cutting-edge neuroscience research and care. She became interested in exploring the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease when she was a volunteer in a seniors’ home. Many residents were slowly losing their identity and ability to connect with others.  Today, little can be done to stop the progression of the illness. In addition, the impact of Alzheimer’s on society is growing due to our aging population. The number of people living with Alzheimer’s worldwide is expected to triple by 2050 according to the World Health Organization.

Solving the mysteries of Alzheimer’s Disease

“Alzheimer’s really interests me on a biological level.  Researchers around the world are looking for the root causes of the disease and for treatments to slow and even halt its progression. It will be very rewarding to work on solving the mysteries of this complex brain disease, particularly at a time when so many are at risk,” she says.

During her spare time, Heather stays active with dance, yoga, and cycling. She is also exploring Montreal and enjoying its plethora of festivals and events.

With their dual degrees, physician-scientists are poised to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice. Most will spend the majority of their time doing research and the remainder taking care of patients. This allows them to identify novel and clinically relevant questions at the patient’s bedside that inspire and inform their research.
To ensure trainees are able to focus on their studies and research, the University provides guaranteed annual funding of $25,000.
Find out more about the MDCM & PhD Program.
 September 20, 2018