Welcome back

Welcome to the 2020-2021 academic year.

As we settle into our third week of the new school year, I’m pleased that there is a return to campus. However, we remain cautious during this pandemic and vigilant in ensuring the safest campus possible.

Thank you for your tireless efforts to keep our School’s mission critical priorities of education, research and clinical care moving forward despite the changing guidelines and requirements that have been necessary.

In preparation for students’ return, education leaders worked together to ensure all would enjoy success in their programs. Part of that work included creating numerous online curricula for the Bachelor of Medical Sciences program, a new education and clinical model in the Doctor of Dental Surgery program and an adapted Doctor of Medicine curriculum.

In the Dean’s Office, we have been developing the foundation for the School’s strategic plan.

Excellence and differentiation. These are the two key principles we focused on as we look to pursue innovations in research and education. We want to offer our students a greater spectrum of choices at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The efforts of our graduate students this year have been bolstered by a new scholarship offered to trainees. The Dean’s Research Scholarship program supports collaborative research projects.

We have also been working on establishing new international partnerships to engage students from around the world and enhance our global impact.

During the past few months, several new leaders were appointed to roles and began the second terms of their appointments. New appointments include Susanne Schmid, Vice Dean, Basic Medical Sciences; Nicole Campbell, Director, Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences; Jessica Prodger, Co-Director, Collaborative Graduate Program in Global Health Systems, Dr. Les Kalman, Academic Lead for Continuing Dental Education; Dr. Ali Tassi, Assistant Dean, Postgraduate Dental Education; and Robert Bartha, Acting Director, Strategy and Scientific Integration, Robarts Research Institute. Dr. Robert Stein was reappointed as Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Equity & Wellbeing.

New decanal roles have also been created in order to place a greater emphasis on supporting our faculty. These include the Assistant Dean, Professional Affairs, Dr. William McCauley; Assistant Dean, Faculty Wellness, Dr. Laura Foxcroft; and the Vice Dean of Education Scholarship and Strategy.

The profound importance of health research has never been more evident than it is today. We must continue to build our momentum of collaboration and partnerships both within and beyond our faculty. We must focus on translating discovery to the community in ways that matter.

Our research teams continued to excel and received significant funding. Congratulations to the recipients of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research Spring 2020 Project Grants who received $4.8 million in funding, as well as to Grace Parraga, PhD, on receiving $876,000 from the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund; Ryan Troyer, PhD, on receiving $150,000 from the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Dr. Julio Martinez-Trujillo, Lyle Muller, PhD, Wataru Innoue, PhD, and Stefan Everling, PhD, on receiving $1 million from the US National Science Foundation; Dr. Shehzad Ali, Ava John Baptiste, PhD, and Lauren Cipriano, PhD, on receiving funding from the Society for Medical Decision Making and Nicole Campbell, PhD, Sarah McLean, PhD, and John McGuire, PhD, for receiving funding through the University’s Experiential Learning Grants.

Each day, I hear and read about the many awards, honours and achievements received by our faculty, staff and students. This summer, many of you were recognized locally, nationally and internationally for contributions to research and education. Congratulations to each of you on these honours.

We have a busy few months ahead of us, and I’m looking forward to sharing more details about changes we are making to the School’s decanal structure, as well as the vital work related to anti-racism, to providing updates on our We SPEAK results, and to engage you on developing our School’s strategic plan.

Thanks to everyone for your continued contributions to our School and students.

John Yoo, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Dean, Schuich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Western University