LMP Celebration of Excellence 2021: awardees

Our Annual Celebration of Excellence is normally an in-person event where we can get together as a department.

This year we celebrated our graduates and award winners virtually. You can find out more about what happened at the event on June 24, 2021 and watch a recording in Celebrating excellence: people at the heart of LMP.

They are highlighted below, please join us in congratulating them.

Our award categories

  • Undergraduate awards
  • Graduate Awards
  • Postgraduate Awards
  • Teaching Awards
  • LMP Departmental Awards

Promotions

We had a record number of promotions this year!

Read more about this years' promotions, including Q&As with those promoted.

Retirements

We celebrate the careers of our Associate Professor Emeriti, and Professor Emeritus.

Read more about our retirees.

Undergraduate awards

The Allan Gornall Testimonial Prize

Dr. Allan Gornall is regarded as the founder of clinical chemistry in Canada and was the Chair of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry from 1966 to 1976. In 1980, Dr. Gornall established an endowment to honour a third-year student with the highest mark in the Specialist Program in Pathobiology.

This year we have two recipients who share this award.

Juliette Lee

Juliette Lee has just finished her undergraduate study in the Pathobiology Specialist Program. After graduating this June, she will continue to pursue a Master of Science in the LMP department here at U of T.

She has been involved in undergraduate research projects throughout her university studies, including a fourth-year project course in Dr. Jeffrey Lee’s lab, where she will continue her research career as an MSc student this coming fall. She is also involved in several athletic, artistic, and cultural clubs on the campus, promoting extracurricular activities to encourage a balance between school and extracurricular life.

Amanda Mao

During her undergraduate studies, Amanda has explored her interests in the Pathobiology and Immunology programs.

Amanda has enjoyed her time in the LMP program and has participated in LMPSU’s Mentorship program as a mentor. She has also participated in research through the LMP SURE program and is currently working in Dr. Susan Done’s lab this summer.

Amanda is elated to return to U of T this fall to begin her graduate studies in the LMP MSc program in Dr. Michelle Bendeck’s lab. For her academic achievements, Amanda has also been awarded the graduation award, Principal Janet Paterson Award, by Innis College.

Third-Year Specialist Pathobiology Award

This award is given to the student in the Arts & Science Pathobiology Specialist Program who completes the two required 3rd-year courses with the highest combined, weighted score.

Aaron Yuxiang Dou

Aaron is a third-year student in the LMP specialist program. A passionate pianist, his interest in science emerged in the high school chemistry lab, where he first recognized the parallels between music composition and scientific discovery.

From exploring metal biology in LMP340 to researching neural stem cell development in the Yuzwa Lab, these past few years as a member of the LMP community have brought many new challenges and even more fond memories. The LMP specialist program has instilled an even deeper appreciation for the importance of scientific discovery; Aaron hopes his love for science and art will intertwine in a career as a clinician-scientist.

In his free time, Aaron is the executive director and founder of CAUSE Tutoring Toronto, a registered Canadian charity; an examiner and mentor for the Canadian Chemistry Olympiad; and a member of various campus organizations. In September, Aaron will be starting his first year in the MD Program at the University of Toronto.

 

Graduate Awards

The Stuart Alan Hoffman Memorial Prize

This prize is awarded annually to the top LMP MSc or PhD graduate who has demonstrated excellence in research, evidenced by their accepted thesis, published or in-press papers, and contributions to their research field.

Maryam Khalil

Maryam completed her undergraduate degree at University of Toronto with a double major in Biochemistry and Health and Disease. She is currently in her 2nd year of Masters in the Department of LMP and is preparing for her qualifying exam.

Her work in Dr. Ming Tsao’s lab revolves around immune checkpoint activation after chemotherapy in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). She studies the underlying mechanism through which chemotherapy improves response to anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy in advanced NSCLC patients.

is also the Academic Vice-President of CLAMPS (Confederation of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology Students). Along with other members of CLAMPS, she organized our annual Product Show and LMP Research Conference that was held virtually this year. She hopes to continue her work for CLAMPS in future years.

The Norman Bethune Award

U of T graduate, Frederick H. Kahan, endowed a prize supported by Merck Sharp & Dome and it was his wish that the prize be named in honour of Dr. Norman Bethune.

The aim of this award is to recognize and encourage young, talented researchers and medical microbiologists on the threshold of their careers. This award goes to both a top medical microbiology resident and a graduate student in LMP.

Ranju Nair

Ranju received her Bachelor’s in Microbiology and Master’s in Biotechnology from the University of Mumbai. She is now a 2nd year PhD student in Dr. Philip Marsden’s lab and has already contributed to two peer-reviewed publications. She is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science & Technology 2020.

As an aspiring tumor vascular biologist, she is studying the role of hypoxia sensing pathways and long non-coding RNAs in tumor blood vessel growth. Her prior learning experience in cancer biology was in Dr. Susan Done’s lab where she published two peer-reviewed publications.

In addition to research, she is a mother of two and an active member of Scadding Court Mentorship Program. She enjoys painting using acrylics and is passionate about teaching meditation to teens.

The Avrum Gottlieb Award for Curriculum Development and Teaching Excellence in Training

This award is given to a trainee in graduate or postgraduate programs to recognize distinction in curriculum development and teaching.

Amanda Mohabeer

Amanda completed her PhD in the lab of Dr. Michelle Bendeck in LMP. Her research focused on elucidating the role of the extracellular matrix protein type VIII collagen in arterial stiffening.

As a graduate student, she served as a peer mentor and teaching assistant. In Fall 2020, she created the Beyond the BSc workshop series, focused on undergraduate professional development for LMP students.

Amanda has a keen interest in STEM education/mentorship and was the acting Course Instructor for LMP 406 Pathobiology of the Cardiovascular System for Winter 2021. She currently works at The Donnelly Centre as a Facilities and Research Coordinator.

Find out more about Amanda in Alumni focus: Grade 8 science fair winner to PhD in LMP

Dr. Rajalakshmi S. Dittakavi and Dr. Prema M. Rao Graduate Awards in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology

Donated by past and present students of Doctors Rajalakshmi and Rao, this award is given to a graduate student in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology who is pursuing study and research on the cause, prevention, pathogenesis, and cure of cancer.

Mitra Shokrollahi 

Mitra received her Master of science degree in Medical Sciences, with a focus on gastroenterology, from McMaster University where she published three peer-reviewed publications and presented her research in several conferences including the Canadian Digestive Disease Week (CDDW), Canada’s premier conference that exhibits the best of Canadian gastroenterology and hepatology research. She was a recipient of Ontario Graduate Scholarship and an active member of McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA). She is now a 2nd year PhD student in the lab of Dr. Karim Mekhail and studies the functional importance of the nuclear envelope in maintaining human genome stability in the context of cancer. She has a peer-reviewed publication and is contributing to other research projects in the lab.

Mitra also completed a Master’s in Linguistics and has worked on the neural underpinnings of language function using electroencephalography (EEG) at the innovative interdisciplinary ARiEL research center, McMaster University. As a life-extensionist, Mitra is involved in various international biogerontology research foundations and supports the global efforts to achieve collective funding for longevity therapeutics in an accessible and democratic manner. She also collaborates with Clinical Case Reports journal as a scientific reviewer and has extensive experience in teaching and E-learning content development.

 

Postgraduate Awards

The Alan Pollard Post-Doctoral Clinical Chemistry Travel Award

Dr. Alan Pollard was a Biochemist at Mount Sinai Hospital and Professor in LMP. This award honours his clinical contributions to Clinical Chemistry over 28 years.

This award recognizes excellence in performance by a Clinical Biochemistry Postdoctoral Diploma candidate.

Victoria Higgins

Victoria Higgins completed her PhD in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto with a research focus on postprandial dyslipidemia in obese, insulin resistant adolescents. She will be completing the clinical chemistry fellowship program at the University of Toronto this June and is looking forward to her position as a clinical chemist at DynaLIFE in Edmonton.

Victoria has been extensively involved with the CALIPER pediatric reference interval project and is a member of the CLSI Document Development Committee for the new EP44 guidelines on Establishment of Reference Intervals. She is a member of the CSCC Working Group on Reference Interval Harmonization where she is working as part of a team to harmonized lipid reporting across Canada.

She is also a member of the Education and Public Outreach in Clinical Chemistry (EPOCC) CSCC Group, where she is working to launch a clinical chemistry podcast to teach the general public more about laboratory medicine.

The Norman Bethune Award

U of T graduate, Frederick H. Kahan, endowed a prize supported by Merck Sharp & Dome and it was his wish that the prize be named in honour of Dr. Norman Bethune.

The aim of this award is to recognize and encourage young, talented researchers and medical microbiologists on the threshold of their careers. This award goes to both a top medical microbiology resident and a graduate student in LMP.

Shawn Clark

Shawn is a second-year trainee in the Postdoctoral Training Program in Clinical Microbiology. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Toronto where he studied antimicrobial-resistant pathogens in the setting of cystic fibrosis. Prior to this, he completed bachelors and masters’ degrees at Ryerson University. 

Read more about Shawn in our 'Spotlight on..."

Stanley Raphael Award for Professionalism

Named after Dr. Stanley Raphael who practiced pathology in Canada for 40 years and passionately believed in the principle that lab physicians work for the patient alone.

This award honours a senior anatomical pathology resident whose performance most embodies the ideals of professionalism as defined by the CanMEDs roles of the Royal College.

Sarah Morgan

Sarah graduated from the faculty of Medicine, Cairo University (excellent with honors). She finished her residency training in Clinical and Chemical Pathology during which she got her Masters degree in Clinical Pathology.

After her residency, she obtained a PhD degree in hematological pathology and joined Cairo University as a faculty staff pathologist. Sarah did two years of Hematological Pathology fellowship training at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center.

She is graduating this year from Anatomical Pathology residency training program at the University of Toronto. She has many publications in peer-reviewed journals. Her main areas of interest in research are papillary breast lesions, breast-implant lymphoma, and knowledge translation in oncology.

 

Teaching Awards

Danny Ghazarian Resident Teaching Award

This award is voted for by our current residents.

Fang-I Lu

Dr. Fang-I Lu is a staff pathologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. Her area of clinical expertise is in breast pathology.

She actively participates in medical education and is currently the site director for University of Toronto's Anatomic Pathology residents, and the Director of Education for the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Molecular Diagnostics.

Her recent research interests include the utilization of artificial intelligence and machine learning in breast pathology for diagnostic, predictive and prognostic purposes, competency-based Anatomic Pathology resident education, and wellness of residents in laboratory medicine. She has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and is a winner of the prestigious CIHR New Frontiers Research Fund for the 2020-2022 cycle.

She is honored and humbled by winning this award and would like to thank all the residents who nominated her.

Clinical Teaching Excellence Award in Residency Teaching

Susan Poutanen

Dr. Poutanen is an associate professor in the Departments of LMP and of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a Medical Microbiologist and Infectious Diseases Physician at Sinai Health & University Health Network in Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Poutanen received her Medical Degree from the University of Toronto in 1996 and completed Internal Medicine and Medical Microbiology Residencies at the University of Toronto and an Infectious Diseases Fellowship at Stanford University, California. She received her Masters of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002.

Dr. Poutanen currently is the microbiology curriculum leader for MD students and is the site lead for residency training at the University Health Network/Sinai Health Department of Microbiology, and the research lead for the Medical Microbiology Residency Training Committee.

Clinical Teaching Excellence Award in Fellowship Teaching

Sharon Nofech-Mozes

Dr. Sharon Nofech-Mozes obtained her medical degree from Tel Aviv University in Israel, where she was trained as an anatomic pathologist. She then completed 3 year fellowship in breast and gynecologic pathology at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Nofech-Mozes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. She works as a staff pathologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre since 2007, where she previously led the breast pathology team.

Her academic interest is in the area of prognostic and predictive markers in breast cancer particularly in ductal carcinoma in situ. She has been involved in education on various levels but particularly enjoys her contribution to the Breast, Gynecologic and Surgical Pathology fellowship training in Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Clinical Teaching Excellence Award in Hemopathology

Anna Tierens

Dr. Tierens obtained her medical degree at the University of Leuven, Belgium in 1985. After a 3-year research fellowship in the Department of Pathology, she started the residency program in clinical pathology in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University Hospital of Leuven.

Her interest in hematological pathology brought her to Omaha, Nebraska where she completed a fellowship in hematological pathology. In 1995, she returned to Leuven and joined the laboratory medicine program at the University Hospital of Leuven as a consultant hematopathologist. After obtaining her PhD in 1998, her family moved to Oslo, Norway where she worked in the Department of Pathology at the University of Oslo and became head of the flow cytometry and molecular laboratories. During the 15 years in Oslo, she dedicated her professional activities in the development and standardization of residual disease of acute lymphoblastic and myeloid leukemia and collaborated with the Nordic Pediatric Hematology-Oncology society for their ALL and AML studies. In 2013, she joined the Laboratory Medicine Program at UHN.

Early Career Teaching Award

Rajeevan Selvaratnam

Dr. Selvaratnam is an academic clinical chemist in the Laboratory Medicine Program at the University Health Network and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, since April 2019. Previously, Dr. Selvaratnam was in community practice in the US, before returning home and to academia to complement his passion for clinical service with teaching and research.

Dr. Selvaratnam obtained his PhD from McMaster University, from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in 2013, where he obtained training in biophysical and analytical characterization of protein structure and dynamics. Subsequently, he completed a clinical fellowship in clinical chemistry from the University of Minnesota Medical Center and is a diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry.

Award for Undergraduate Teaching

Corwyn Rowsell

Dr. Corwyn Rowsell is Division Head of Pathology at Unity Health Toronto and Associate Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of Toronto. 

His main clinical interest is gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary pathology. 

He is the Undergraduate Medical Education Co-ordinator for LMP and the lead for the inflammation and neoplasia weeks in the MD Program  Introduction to Medicine course. Additional academic interests include undergraduate medical education, quality assurance, and the application of artificial intelligence to pathology.

Award for Graduate Education

Jeff Lee

Dr. Lee is the Co-Coordinator for the Specialist Program in Pathobiology, and Co-Associate Chair Undergraduate Life Science Education in LMP.

He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1995-1999). He pursued his graduate studies with Dr. P. Lynne Howell at the University of Toronto/Hospital for Sick Children (1999-2005) and followed that up with a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA (2005-2010). Jeff returned back to the University of Toronto to start his own lab in July 2010.

His career has been highlighted with a number of fellowships and awards, such as a Canada Research Chair in Structural Virology, 2015 Merck Irving S Sigal Award (American Society of Microbiology), CIHR New Investigator Award, 2010 Spicer Young Investigator Award (Stanford University/Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource), 2009 NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, 2006 Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal, and CIHR Postdoctoral and Doctoral Fellowships.

Sustained Excellence in Education

Susan Done

Since obtaining a teaching certificate from the University of Toronto, Susan has taught learners at many different levels throughout LMP from medial students and residents to clinical fellows. In her research lab she has taught high school co-op students, undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.

She is currently enjoying the many challenges and joys that come with being Anatomical Pathology residency program director which so far have included the introduction of the CBD curriculum, standardized interviews, the introduction of wellness activities, a Royal College accreditation, and ensuring residency training continues during a pandemic. All have been rewarding and successful thanks to the tireless efforts of a very strong, creative, and supportive residency program committee, fantastic program administrators - Paula and Sue - and an outstanding group of residents.

Brendan Mullen

Dr. Mullen, a graduate of the University of Ottawa (MD 1977), is Deputy Director, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital.

Following his residency in Anatomic Pathology at the University of Toronto he was an MRC Research Fellow at the UBC Pulmonary Research Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. James Hogg. He is currently a staff pathologist at Mount Sinai Hospital with interests in diagnostic breast and pulmonary pathology and the laboratory investigation of male infertility.

He is active in the OMA where he is currently Chair Tariff Committee, Section on Laboratory Medicine. He served as a consultant to the Newfoundland Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing and as a consultant to the Nova Scotia Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Best Practice Initiative.

The John B. Walter Prize for​ Course Design and Development

Gabriella Chan

Gabriella is a lawyer, scientist, educator, and startup mentor focusing on the life sciences and health technology sectors.

While working with a University of Toronto biotech spinout and liaising with the company’s lawyers during her doctoral training in the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), Gabriella identified a need. Most scientists don’t speak legalize and most lawyers can’t provide well-rounded counsel because they don’t understand the science and technology behind their clients’ products. To address that need, she became a lawyer, trained on Bay Street, worked as Vice President of Legal Affairs for another biotech company, and later founded Yocto Law Professional Corporation.

Having identified another need, Gabriella returned to the Faculty of Medicine to teach graduate students in the Translational Research Program (TRP) and mentor startup founders at the Health Innovation Hub (H2i) about intellectual property, translation, and commercialization - the pillars of the knowledge economy.

Departmental Awards for Faculty

LMP Distinguished Service Award

This award honours faculty and/or administrative staff who have demonstrated the highest level of sustained service to the Department in research, teaching, creative professional activity or administrative service.

The recipient demonstrates innovation and excellence in scholarship and administration, and provides outstanding leadership in advancing the vision and mission of the Department.

These year, two LMP faculty members share the award.

Richard Hegele

Richard G. Hegele, served as Chair, LMP (2009-2015), Chief, Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine, SickKids (2011-2016) and Vice Dean, Research & Innovation, Faculty of Medicine (2016-2020).

During his seven years as Chair, LMP experienced remarkable growth in academic performance and distinction, enabled by recruiting and promoting outstanding faculty, supporting students and trainees, developing staff, attracting and leveraging resources, establishing novel collaborations, building community, and celebrating diversity.

He established the Digital Pathology library which was ahead of its time and has become an invaluable resource for our trainees’ education. This was further emphasized with the impact of COVID on in-person learning.

When he was promoted to Vice Dean, the “Richard G. Hegele Award for Excellence in Research and Innovation” was established to recognize LMP faculty whose original research, invention, or creative professional activity improves understanding of mechanisms of disease or advances clinical practice relevant to the discipline.

George Yousef

Dr. George Yousef is the Vice Chair Clinical Education at LMP and served as the director of resident research for several years. He played a pivotal role in establishing our new MHSc program in laboratory medicine, now bringing in its second cohort.

He has developed two graduate courses in LMP for which he received a course design award. He also developed the first OSCE module for competence evaluation of residents which was endorsed by the Royal College.

He has been instrumental in the development of others within LMP through mentoring junior faculty and serving as a three-year review evaluator. He has served as a member of the Temerty Faculty Council and the Decanal promotions committee.

Alongside this he has remained a great ambassador for LMP with over 80 invited speaker and visiting professor invitations nationally and internationally. He has remained a pioneer in kidney cancer research, especially micro-RNAs in cancer. He is founder and chair of the kidney cancer research network of Canada personalized medicine initiative and is internationally recognized for this discovery of the Kallikrein gene family – for which he was the founding member of the advisory board of the international society of Kallikreins.

LMP Leadership Acknowledgement Award

This award is given to a faculty member in appreciation for their leadership role and commitment to advancing clinical excellence in the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology.

Scott Boerner

Dr. Boerner obtained his MD and FRCPC (Anatomical Pathology) at the U of T followed by a fellowship in Cytopathology at MD Anderson Cancer Centre/University of Texas.

His clinical practice has been conducted at the University Health Network where he has been Medical Director of the Cytopathology laboratory for last 24 years. His clinical and academic focus has been on the modernization of cytology practices with the introduction of novel testing on cytologic specimens, most recently illustrated by next-generation sequencing for somatic tumour mutations in serous carcinoma.

Since the start of his pathology career, he has fostered the acquisition of cytology knowledge in others by immersing himself in educating medical technologists, residents, fellows, and practicing pathologists for which his efforts have been recognized with a number of awards for teaching excellence. In line with this theme has been the development and oversight as program director of an RCPSC-accredited Area of Focused Competence Cytopathology fellowship at the University of Toronto.

To further shape pathology and cytology practice he has been involved in a number of administrative committees including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Chair, Areas of Focused Competence (AFC) Committee in Cytopathology), Institute for Quality Management in Healthcare (Chair, Cytology Committee and Member of the Professional Advisory Committee), Canadian Society of Cytopathology, Canadian Association of Pathologists ((Chair, Annual Meetings Committee, Secretary/Treasurer) to name a few.

Richard G. Hegele Award for Excellence in Research and Innovation 

Established by a generous donation from Richard Hegele to LMP when he was promoted to Vice Dean, this award is given in recognition of original research, invention, or creative professional activity that improves understanding of mechanisms of disease or advances clinical practice relevant to the discipline.

Cynthia Hawkins

Dr. Cynthia Hawkins is a neuropathologist-scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto with a clinical practice focussed on pediatric neuropathology and a laboratory devoted exclusively to pediatric brain tumor research.

Dr. Hawkins has developed and implemented numerous molecular genetic tests within the Division of Pathology at SickKids. Over a period of 9 years, Dr. Hawkins has improved their molecular test menu from 15 targets using RT-PCR to now over 1500 targets using cutting edge diagnostic assays, including NanoString and targeted RNA sequencing. The diagnostic assays cover many different types of pediatric cancers, including brain tumours, soft tissue tumours, sarcomas, and leukemias.

Her work has had a huge impact on the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancers. The assays have revolutionized how pediatric pathologists and neuropathologists diagnose cancer, as many entities require the detection of specific molecular abnormalities for accurate subclassification and treatment planning. In addition, the Trusight assay is able to detect genetic abnormalities that can be specifically targeted using cutting-edge therapeutics. This 'personalized medicine' would not be possible without the assays that she developed.

The molecular tests are not only available to patients at Sick Kids, but to patients across Canada, North America, and the rest of the world. SickKids now gets numerous international consultations specifically for these tests, many coming from under-resourced areas. They truly are improving child health on a global scale.

Read more about Dr. Cynthia Hawkins research in Pathology and precision medicine: how research has transformed brain tumour diagnostics for children