With this last message for the academic year, I want to introduce you to an amazing Faculty of Medicine professor at the University of Manitoba, Edwin Kroeger, PhD. I have just returned from the 30th Canadian Student Health Research Forum (CSHRF). It was my eighth time attending CSHRF, but for Kroeger, who is also the Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies, since CSHRF is his baby, he has attended and led all 30 to date. Why is this so noteworthy?
The CSHRF is like no other scientific conference you will attend, and this is completely due to Kroeger’s progressive vision for the forum and its purpose. In 1987, Kroeger decided there was great value to be had in bringing the top five per cent of all PhD students from Canadian medical schools across the country together as a way of showcasing research, networking and to learn from one another and appreciate the diversity of research that occurs in our medical schools. Thirty years later, this vision is as relevant and important as ever.
The four-day forum consists of multiple research days and events: the Manitoba Research Day, the national poster competition, a thematic symposium presented by global research leaders and a mentorship panel from the Gairdner Foundation awardees. Those who attend the forum also get to experience excursions to important landmarks and facilities, such as the Canadian Human Rights Museum.
Throughout the past eight years, we have sent 76 of our top PhD students to this Conference. Consistently, our attendees distinguish themselves, their labs and our School as being among the strongest biomedical research institutions in the country.
The CSHRF forum saw more than 300 poster presentations this year at the national poster competition. These posters are then judged and awarded Gold, Silver and honorary mention level awards. Of our 76 students who have been involved in this competition, 28 have returned with awards from this forum which represents a full 37 per cent of our attendees. I would also like to say that I am very pleased with the showing Schulich Medicine & Dentistry graduate trainees presented at this year’s CSHRF.
Kroeger has fostered close relationships with the Lindau Foundation that supports a European Nobel Laureate mentorship meeting with 600 global trainees every three years. The top CSHRF trainee each year receives a nomination to attend the Lindau meeting. So far, all such nominated trainees from the CSHRF have been selected to attend the Lindau conference.
Kroeger has also forged a close relationship with Canada’s Gairdner Foundation.
The Gairdner awards are Canada’s top scientific awards. They recognize global scientific excellence and are often a precursor to the Nobel Prize.
As you can imagine, Dr. Kroeger rarely, if ever, acknowledges negative views regarding trainee opportunities. I admire him for so many reasons, but among them is his ability to see challenges as simply obstacles that must be overcome. Thirty years and counting, with literally thousands of students served, I wanted you all to learn about Kroeger and what he does.
My overall message is that we will always need a talented group of biomedical researchers in Canada, and I hope there will always be professors like Kroeger who will dedicate themselves to helping trainees, wherever they come from, to achieve that goal. If that is what you want, and you have the ability to achieve it, there are people and organizations that will help you get there. The Schulich Medicine & Dentistry trainees who attended CHSRF this year agreed it was tremendously useful and achieved the stated objectives in an impressive way.
I hope you all have a great summer, filled with discovery and fun.
Andrew J. Watson, PhD
Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies