2018 Alumni of Distinction Award and Dean’s Distinguished Lecture recipients

The 2018 Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Alumni of Distinction and Dean’s Distinguished Lecture recipients have left an indelible mark on the world through their commitment to education, medicine, research, and social accountability. Their tireless dedication to improving the human condition is above reproach.

Congratulations to the seven recipients:

Dr. Paul Harding, MD’58
Professional Achievement

Dr. Harding completed his medical undergraduate and postgraduate training at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University. After his postdoctoral training at Nuffield Institute at Oxford University, Dr. Harding returned to Western University as an assistant professor. He advanced to a full professor in 1978.

Dr. Harding has established himself as a national and international leader in perinatal physiology and has been referred to as the ‘Father of Perinatal Research in Canada.’ This distinction has arisen from his personal and collaborative research on neonatal thermoregulation, fetal macrosomia in gestational diabetes and surfactant therapy.

He served as an administrative leader in the roles of Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry from 1982 to 1992; Hospital Chief at St. Joseph’s Health Care London from 1974 to 1982; and Associate Dean, Research at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry from 1993 to 1996.

Dr. Harding is credited for changing the nature of obstetrics academic departments in Canada and internationally. And is known for building a strong culture of research within obstetrics, and for recruiting basic scientists to the Department at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. An important research day was established in his name and in 2018, the School will be hosting the 16th Annual Paul Harding Research Day.

Dr. Toni Zhong, MD’02
Community Service

A dedicated physician, Dr. Zhong is described as someone who always goes above and beyond the expectations of her patients, her colleagues and her community. She graduated from Schulich Medicine in 2002, and returned to the School to complete her subspecialty training in plastic and reconstructive surgery. She is a compassionate surgeon working with individuals needing breast reconstruction, making it her mission to ensure all women in Ontario have access to this type of surgery.

Dr. Zhong has spearheaded humanitarian surgical missions to developing countries through her participation in Women for Women International – an organization that has helped nearly 500,000 marginalized women in countries affected by war and conflict by offering support, tools and access to life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency.

A leader, she has helped to launch a new international humanitarian initiative at University Health Network (UHN), which makes it possible for UHN surgeons to provide life-altering surgeries in Canada to patients from the developing world.

Eric Arts, BSc’90, PhD
Excellence in Basic Science Research

Eric Arts completed his undergraduate BSc degree in microbiology and immunology in 1990 at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. Following his PhD, he joined Case Western Reserve University to do postdoctoral training. He was appointed as an assistant professor and rose to the rank of full professor in 2009 at Case Western. In 2014, Arts returned to Canada and Western and now serves as Chair of Microbiology and Immunology.

Arts is being recognized for his seminal discoveries that have direct application to many areas of HIV/AIDS research. His research has focused on HIV-1 research with regards to drug discovery, drug resistance, basic virus replication, pathogenesis, evolution, and interaction with host immune response. While at Case Western, Arts was involved in directing the HIVE related Joint Clinial Research Centre and Colre Laboratories in Kampala, Uganda. Since arriving at Western, he has been involved in Western’s Program in Global Health Systems in Africa.

Arts has published more than 130 peer-reviewed articles and reviews in high impact journals. He has been invited to give more than 200 lectures and talks and serves as a reviewer for a large number of journals, also serving on the editorial board of journals. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the American Foundation of AIDS Research.

Dr. Teresa Chan, MD’08
Young Alumni – Medicine

A member of the graduating Class of 2008, Dr. Teresa Chan is a rising star in medical education. She is an emergency medicine physician in Hamilton, a faculty member at McMaster University, and medical education researcher.

She is described as the mastermind behind McMaster’s Modular Assessment Program (McMAP), which is a programmatic, competency-based workplace assessment program for emergency medicine. She has been actively involved in creating new emergency medicine continuing education experiences and has led the creation of faculty development initiatives. Recently, Dr. Chan led a team of students and faculty members to create an award-winning novel educational serious board game called GridlockED.

Dr. Chan completed her Master of Health Professions Education and is pursuing well funded research in cognitive processing, critical appraisal of online educational resources, competency-based medical education and educational innovations.

Dr. Karen Campbell, DDS’82
Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry

Dr. Campbell is a trailblazer and leader as the first female graduate from Schulich Dentistry to become a Chief of Dentistry at a university teaching hospital and first female to become the Director of a graduate program in paediatric dentistry. She has an unbroken record of dedication to dentistry and to dental education.

After graduating in 1982, Dr. Campbell spent several years in general practice in London and then completed her training as a paediatric dentist. Following the untimely death of her husband, Dr. Campbell moved to British Columbia where she has risen to leadership positions. In her current roles she has contributed significantly to the body of dental research as an investigator and supervisor, and she has strengthened the ties between medicine and dentistry at BC Children’s Hospital. She is a valued member of the Paediatric Dentistry Examination Team of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada and is currently the Associate Chief Examiner.

Dr. Olaf Plotzke, DDS’77
Honorary Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry

Community dentist, faculty member, and volunteer, Dr. Olaf Plotzke has served Schulich Dentistry, the profession of dentistry and the people of the region with distinction, passion and honour. Dr. Plotzke graduated from Schulich Dentistry in 1977, and completed his graduate training in paediatric dentistry in 1984 from Indiana University.

Dr. Plotzke has a passion for the treatment and care of children who have been born with cleft lip and palate problems, and since 1993 has served s the Dental Director of the Cleft Lip and Palate team at Thames Valley Children’s Centre, and served as the Chair and Dental Director of Cleft Palate Teams from 2012 to 2016.

He has been teaching at Western University for most of the 41 years since he graduated and currently serves as a lecturer, adjunct clinical professor and course director at Schulich Dentistry.

Dr. Paul Polak, MD’58
Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Award

After graduating from medical school in 1958, Dr. Polak completed an internship at Montreal General Hospital and moved to Colorado for extensive training in psychiatry. For more than 20 years, he practised psychiatry, taking a particular interest in homelessness among veterans and those with mental illness. Upon travelling to Bangladesh, he became more interested in the devastating poverty experienced by so many especially in rural areas.

In 1981, he established International Development Enterprise to create practical solutions that harness the power of the market to empower the rural poor to lift themselves from poverty. The foundation of the organization was to develop and use low-cost affordable technology to assist people. He has received grants from a variety of organizations to support his work, including $27 million in 2008 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This work enabled an estimated 30 million families to escape poverty.

Dr. Polak is also the co-founder and CEO of Windhorse International, a for-profit social venture with a mission to develop affordable, safe and innovate products and services for those living in poverty.