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.  To learn more about this elite program attend the MDCM & PhD open house on September 13th from 6:30- 8 p.m. in room S1/3 in the Stewart Biology Building. For more information about the MDCM & PhD Program, please contact Kimberly John at:
Meet Lashanda Skerritt, Class of 2023, one member of the MDCM & PhD Program’s talented cohort of trainees.

There is plenty of evidence that social factors, including education, employment status, income level, gender and ethnicity influence the health of individuals. In all countries, Canada included, there are differences in the health and well-being of different social groups. Generally, marginalized groups are at higher risk of poor health. Lashanda’s research is looking at the systemic and social factors that impact patient care among vulnerable populations. Her ultimate goal is to identify the root causes of health inequities in order to influence health care practices and policies to improve patient outcomes.

Looking at the systemic and social factors that impact patient care among vulnerable populations

Currently, Lashanda’s doctoral work applies mixed methods to study the sexual and reproductive health care needs of women living with HIV. She is using data from the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) to look at the health care needs of this patient population and the services and support available to them. The goal is to determine how the health care system can better address the particular needs of these women.

“My studies didn’t follow a linear path. I had a sense I wanted to study medicine and social science, but really didn’t know how I’d get to that point,” she says. It was while doing a research internship on cancer therapies at Boston Children’s Hospital that Lashanda decided to pursue an MD-PhD. She was inspired by the physician-scientists she was working with and was able to see firsthand how their translational research was positively impacting patient care and outcomes.

Drawn to McGill and Montreal

She chose to study at McGill because the University provides a learning environment that values clinical research and provides medical students with ample research opportunities throughout their training. She was also drawn to Montreal because of its cultural diversity.

Lashanda is completing her doctoral thesis under the supervision of Alexandra de Pokomandy, MDCM, MSc, Assistant Professor at McGill and a family physician specializing in HIV patient care.

One of Lashanda’s hobbies is playing the piano and she recently started to play the djembe, an African drum. She also loves cooking; each time she tries out a new recipe she writes about it in her food blog (

Find out more about the MDCM & PhD Program.
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.
Register today

August 31, 2018