Alumni of Distinction Award recipients - 2024

crystal trophies sitting on a table.

By Communications

With pleasure, we announce the 2024 Alumni of Distinction Award recipients, symbolic of the excellence and pride we have in all of our alumni. These people have distinguished themselves as role models both for our alumni and our current students and learners. They are truly an inspiration to us all.


Dr. Sukhmeet Singh Sachal

Dr. Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, MPH’18

Young Alumni

While at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Sukhmeet Singh Sachal inspired his peers and excelled in various impactful projects. Notably, he worked on the Refugee Settlement Project with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, identifying gaps in refugee services. His dedication earned him a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Scholarship and a spot as an UNLEASH Innovation Lab Delegate in Singapore, where he collaborated with global innovators on solutions for a better and more sustainable world. Shortly after, he was named one of Canada’s Top 25 under 25 Environmentalists.

During COVID-19, as a medical student, Sukhmeet’s passion for public health led him to establish the Sikh Health Foundation . Supported by the Clinton Foundation, he and his team of over 100 volunteers promoted public health measures and disseminated COVID-19 information in a culturally relevant manner at religious institutions across Canada. He co-founded Translation 4 Our Nations, providing COVID-19 information in Indigenous languages worldwide.

For all his work, he has been a sought-after public speaker, having been invited by Bill and Melinda Gates, President Bill Clinton, and Secretary Hillary Clinton to speak at their events on global platforms. He is currently furthering his medical career as a plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry to continue to improve health outcomes for all.

Dr. Muriel Brackstone

Dr. Muriel Brackstone, MD’99, Resident Alumna’04, MSc’08, PhD’16

Professional Achievement – Medicine

Dr. Muriel Brackstone is a trailblazing professor in the Departments of Surgery and Oncology and an associate scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute at Western University, St Josephs Healthcare and London Health Sciences Centre. As the first female adult general surgeon to practice in London and the first female surgeon in any division to be promoted to full professor at Western University, she has made significant strides in her field and as a role model for women. Dr. Brackstone is currently the city-wide Chair/Chief of General Surgery.

Dr. Brackstone completed her PhD in Pathology during the early years of her clinical practice and has been conducting innovative clinical trials to engage the immune system to recognize and target breast cancer to reduce recurrence and improve survival, particularly in young women. Dr. Brackstone established London’s Breast Care Program and has served as its founding medical director since 2009, leading efforts that result in over 37,000 annual patient visits. She also co-founded the Gender, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office for the Department of Surgery and founded the Women in Surgery group for female clinical academics at Western.

She co-founded the first Canada-wide hands-on oncoplastic cadaver course to train surgeons in breast oncoplastic surgery and developed a unique fellowship program in breast surgical oncology, one of the few of its kind in the world. Additionally, she created an innovative international virtual training program in breast oncoplastic surgery, with the first course delivered in Kenya in 2021.

Dr. Brackstone is the lead author of several international guidelines on how to treat breast cancer and is the lead author of the Ontario Health Cancer Guidelines. She is also a Canadian Clinical Trials Group executive, which helps determine which clinical trials should be conducted in breast cancer in Canada.

On a personal note, she is a mother of four, holds a black belt in karate, and is a Canadian National Karate team member.

Dr. Carolyn Mason

Dr. Carolyn Mason, DDS’85

Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry

Dr. Carolyn Mason is a highly respected periodontal specialist who has significantly advanced the dental profession locally and nationally. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree with Distinction from the University of Western Ontario in 1985 and completed her specialty training in Periodontics at the University of Toronto in 1990. Dr. Mason returned to Western University as a part-time clinical instructor and later opened her periodontal specialty practice in Windsor. She became deeply involved in the local dental community, serving on the Board of the Essex County Dental Society and becoming its president. Nationally, she served as chief examiner in Periodontics at the Royal College of Dentists of Canada, where she implemented significant examination changes. In 2016, she was elected director of the Royal College, becoming the first female Board Chair of a National Dental College, leading significant governance changes that impacted the dental specialty profession across Canada.

Dr. Mason’s commitment to advanced education and community involvement is equally impressive. She earned an Executive MBA from Ivey Business School and became a Fellow of the International College of Dentists (FICD). Though retired from private practice, Dr. Mason continues contributing to the field as an adjunct clinical professor at Western University.

Dr. Joel Rosenbloom

Dr. Joel Rosenbloom, DDS’83

Community Service

Dr. Joel Rosenbloom earned his DDS degree in 1983 and has since dedicated his professional career to serving those in need through various community programs in Canada and abroad. He currently serves as a staff dentist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, ON and is an assistant professor in the Teaching Stream and Director of Student Life at the University of Toronto. Additionally, he is an adjunct assistant professor at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

Dr. Rosenbloom’s passion for global health has taken him on numerous lengthy live/work experiences across Africa, including Ethiopia,  Mozambique and Sudan. His extensive work living in Mozambique as a government dentist has made him very knowledgeable about noma, a little-known disease, and led him to co-found the Noma Action Group (NAG), which educates and raises awareness about the disease. Through NAG’s advocacy alongside global efforts, the World Health Organization has officially recognized noma as a neglected tropical disease.

Dr. Keyvan Abbaszadeh

Dr. Keyvan Abbaszadeh

Honourary Alumni of Distinction - Dentistry

Dr. Keyvan Abbaszadeh, an Magna Cum Laude graduate of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, embarked on a distinguished career that included an internship at Brigham and Women's/Harvard University Hospital and a residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since 1999, he has dedicated himself to private practice in London, Ontario, where he has become a respected Fellow and examiner for the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. Additionally, Dr. Abbaszadeh holds the esteemed title of Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, showcasing his expertise and commitment to excellence in his field.  He is a Fellow-designate of the American College of Surgeons.  A designation that few oral and maxillofacial surgeons hold; it is awarded to practitioners dedicated to teaching and advancing the field.

As an adjunct clinical professor at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Dr. Abbaszadeh excels in practice and contributes significantly to dental education and training. His impressive credentials and dedication to mentoring future dental professionals make him a deserving recipient of this honorary dentistry award.

James Duncan

James Duncan, PhD’09

Excellence in Basic Science Research

Since 2013, James Duncan has been a faculty member in Cancer Biology at the Fox Chase Cancer Centre in Philadelphia. As a doctoral student supported by a CIHR Studentship, he embraced emerging proteomics technologies. He transformed research activities by developing bold proteomic strategies to evaluate kinase inhibitors as novel drug candidates for therapeutic cancer treatments. His exceptional productivity led to highly cited first-author publications in Science Signaling and Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. Duncan’s outstanding achievements earned him the 2009 Collip Medal for the top PhD thesis within Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and a CIHR postdoctoral fellowship to train at the University of North Carolina with cancer cell signaling expert Gary Johnson.

At the Johnson laboratory, Duncan devised an innovative kinome profiling strategy, detailed in his highly cited Cell paper, which revealed how breast cancer cells adapt to evade targeted therapies. This groundbreaking work gained immediate recognition, with reviews in prestigious journals like Cancer Discovery, Science Signaling and Nature Reviews. Joining Fox Chase in 2013 and being promoted to associate professor in 2020, Duncan has led the Cancer Kinome Initiative and made significant contributions to translational cancer research and precision oncology. He continues to publish in influential journals, secure competitive funding, and receive numerous awards, including an Impact Award from the Department of Defense.

Dr. Nehal Al Tarhuni

Dr. Nehal Al Tarhuni, DDS’09

Young Alumni – Dentistry

Dr. Nehal Al Tarhuni’s journey in humanitarian dentistry began early during her dental school years from 2007 to 2010 when she dedicated herself to providing dental care in a challenging Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. This experience revealed her unwavering commitment to helping those in need and showcased her resilience and compassion in the face of adversity.

One of Dr. Al Tarhuni’s significant contributions has been organizing annual “Free Community Day” events at her clinics from 2010 to 2020, offering essential dental care to underserved populations. Her dedication to accessibility and quality care shines through these initiatives, highlighting her lifelong commitment to ensuring everyone can access dental health services. Throughout her career, Dr Al Tarhuni actively advocated access to care for Syrian and Afghan newcomer refugees. Beyond her clinical work, Dr. Al Tarhuni’s leadership extends to her role as chair of the non-profit human rights organization Canadian Palestinian Social Association London, & Run For Palestine, where she spearheads efforts to provide support, solidarity and advocacy for newcomer refugees and community members including advocating for global health equity, healthy living, access and human rights as well as fundraising for hospitals locally and abroad. Her impact also resonates within the dental community, where she actively mentors and inspires future dental professionals at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Western University, embodying the spirit of service and excellence in dental care.

Phaedra Henley

Phaedra Henley, BMSc’07, PhD’14

Young Alumni – Basic Science

Phaedra Henley is a leading figure in Global Health and One Health, with a strong research, practice, and academic administration background. For the past nine years, she has been pivotal in developing and implementing global health graduate programs in Canada and Rwanda. Notably, she is currently serving at the University for Global Health Equity in Rwanda as the inaugural Chair of the Center for One Health and has secured substantial funding for research and training initiatives.

Phaedra is driven by a transdisciplinary, evidence-based approach to training, research, and practice, emphasizing community involvement and placing importance on holistic health solutions. Her impactful leadership has led to strategic partnerships with esteemed institutions and international recognition for her contributions to academic excellence and global health initiatives.

Dr. Rebekah Jacques

Dr. Rebekah Jacques, Resident Alumna - Pathology’14

Dr. Steven Blizzard Trailblazer Award

Dr. Rebekah Jacques’s early work in death investigation bioethics garnered attention for its clarity and originality, earning her awards at the University of Toronto and recognition at significant bioethics conferences. This groundbreaking work, now the focus of a new textbook and a Pathology Ethics Website, has drawn international interest. Concurrently, she remains engaged locally, teaching Ethics at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, acting as the inaugural Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Ambassador for the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine group and leads the Anti-Racism Curriculum Review Committee for Schulich Medicine.

Passionate about advocating for foster care children, Dr. Jacques’ involvement with the Child Welfare Political Action Committee supports hundreds of former youth nationwide and has been instrumental in changing laws to improve the outcomes of children in care. As a respected leader in Pathology, Dr. Jacques champions EDI in education, advocacy and humanitarian initiatives, spearheading projects, such as the Undergraduate Medical Education Equity Diversity Inclusion and Decolonization Task Force and fostering partnerships with Indigenous communities for clinical care and education and Residential Schools. Her efforts in forensic pathology and elder abuse guidelines further demonstrate her commitment to improving welfare through her expertise.

Dr. Jane Philpott

Dr. Jane Philpott, MD'84

Dean's Distinguished Lecture Award

Dr. Jane Philpott is among Canada’s most revered and recognizable health professionals, with an illustrious career focused on improving health and health care for the greater good. Perhaps best known for her time in politics, where she served as federal health minister, throughout her career, she has worn many hats: family physician, educator, academic leader, and author among them.

After graduating from Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry with an MD degree, Dr. Philpott spent more than a decade working as a doctor in Niger, West Africa. She later returned to Canada, where she served as Chief of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital.

In 2015, Dr. Philpott became the first medical doctor in Canada to serve as a federal Minister of Health, followed by appointments as the inaugural Canadian Minister of Indigenous Services and President of the Treasury Board. Dr. Philpott is now the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen's University and the Director of the School of Medicine, where she continues to inspire and shape the future of health care.

Earlier this year, she published a book, Health for All: A doctor's prescription for a healthier Canada, which is sparking important, national conversations on how to improve primary care access in Canada.