Community leaders, innovators and changemakers: Announcing the 2020 Alumni of Distinction Award recipients


The 2020 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, health care, research and social accountability.

Congratulations to the recipients:

John Ciriello, PhD’79
Excellence in Basic Science Research

Professor Ciriello completed his BSc, MSc and PhD degrees at Western University. He joined the faculty in 1981 as an Assistant Professor and transitioned to full Professor within eight years. He currently serves as President of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) and as a member of Campus Council and the University’s Senate.

Ciriello is an innovative researcher with a remarkable capacity to unravel the complexity of cardiovascular disease. His research incorporates state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary approaches to solve scientific questions with far-reaching impact on cardiovascular health.

He has published more than 175 peer-reviewed manuscripts, from which his work has been cited more than 6,000 times. He has also served as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous prestigious scientific journals and has contributed to national and international organizations, such as the American Physiological Society and the Canadian Physiology Society.

In 2019, Ciriello was named a Fellow of the American Physiological Society – one of only four Canadians recognized at this level.

Dr. Benjamin Davis, DDS’92
Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry

Dr. Davis completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. He received his diploma in oral and maxillofacial surgery and anesthesia from the University of Toronto, followed by a surgical fellowship in the teaching hospitals affiliated with Dalhousie University.

Dr. Davis currently serves as the Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at Dalhousie University. He is a Fellow of and Examiner in Chief for the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. He previously served as President of the Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the Canadian Dental Society of Anesthesia and the Nova Scotia Dental Specialist Society.

He is committed to educating students to become the best dentists possible. He has presented numerous academic papers and continuing education lectures around the world. He also serves on the editorial boards of several international journals.

Dr. Davis is described as an excellent teacher, surgeon, author, administrator, volunteer and humanitarian. He is recognized as someone who strives for the highest standards possible in all aspects of his work to ensure the best care for patients.

Drs. Rob Elliott, DDS’89, MClD’93 and Kent Floreani, DDS’87, MClD’92
Honorary Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry

Drs. Rob Elliott and Kent Floreani are recognized for their generosity and philanthropy, which has inspired further support from their fellow alumni. Together, they also regularly offer clinical seminars to Graduate Orthodontics residents at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

Dr. Rob Elliott completed his dental and orthodontic training at the School. After graduation, he moved to Prince George, British Columbia to join his father’s orthodontic practice. Rob is the former president of the British Columbia Association of Orthodontists and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Elliot is a significant donor to the Graduate Orthodontics program, in particular to the renewal of clinic equipment.

Dr. Kent Floreani also completed his dental and orthodontic training at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. After graduating, he moved to Sault Ste. Marie and opened the first orthodontic practice in that area of Ontario. He has been a generous supporter and donor to the Graduate Orthodontics program, providing a fully furnished and equipped cephalometric radiographic suite. Dr. Floreani serves as a member of the Graduate Orthodontic Alumni Executive Committee, working toward establishing the endowment fund for a Chair in Graduate Orthodontics. He also serves as the secretary to the Ontario Association of Orthodontists.

Dr. Jennifer Gunter, Resident Alumna
Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Award

Dr. Gunter completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. She currently practises in San Francisco as an OB/GYN and pain medicine physician.

Dr. Gunter is recognized as a champion for gender equity in medicine. She is a leading voice in women’s health, sharing knowledge and expertise to combat health and science misinformation. She has embraced social media as an essential communication tool, reaching new, global audiences.

Dr. Gunter is the author of the best-selling book, “The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina – Separating Myth from Medicine.” She is a columnist for The New York Times and has been published in The Cut, USA Today and Self. She recently launched a CBC Gem show called “Jensplaining,” which addresses pseudoscience and health myths in a fun and humorous way.

Dr. Cindy Hutnik, Resident Alumna
Professional Achievement Award

Dr. Cindy Hutnik completed her residency training in Ophthalmology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. She is a renowned clinician who is recognized nationally as an expert in her field. Her research focuses on glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, encompassing basic science, clinical, health economic and educational research.

Dr. Hutnik was part of a 12-member panel that devised national recommendations and guidelines on treating glaucoma. She also served as research director for the Department of Ophthalmology where, under her leadership, a highly productive and vibrant basic science research lab was created and flourished. She currently serves as Chair of the Governing Committee of the Academic Medical Organization of Southwestern Ontario.

Dr. Hutnik is an inspiring role model in the field of medicine. She has mentored and supervised hundreds of students at all levels, as well as new faculty in clinical and research settings.

Dr. Andreas Laupacis, Resident Alumnus
Professional Achievement Award

Dr. Laupacis is recognized as an international champion for the advancement of evidence-based, informed decision making in all aspects of health care. His innovative ideas have transformed how clinicians make decisions and how health care systems are structured.

Dr. Laupacis developed the concept of ‘number needed to treat’ to enhance understanding of clinical trials, a measure now used internationally to describe the benefits and harms of potential treatments. He also led the development of guidelines for interpreting cost-effectiveness studies, which have been used worldwide. His approximately 400 peer-reviewed publications have been cited more than 36,000 times, among the most cited in Canadian medical history.

Dr. Laupacis completed his residency training at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. He is a general internist who specializes in palliative care at St. Michael’s Hospital, a scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, and a Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. He has served on numerous academic and governmental committees, including serving as board chair for Health Quality Ontario.

In 2011, Dr. Laupacis founded the website Healthy Debate, which focuses on health policy issues from an evidence-based point of view and provides a forum for discussing difficult health care issues. He currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Recognized as a great humanist, mentor and community member, Dr. Laupacis is unafraid to challenge health care providers and systems to always do what is in the best interest of patients, based on the best available evidence.

Dr. Abdel-Rahman Lawendy, MD’03, PhD’14
Young Alumni Award

Dr. Abdel-Rahman Lawendy completed his Doctor of Medicine and residency training in Orthopaedic Surgery at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, followed by a fellowship in trauma.

While working as a full-time trauma surgeon, he completed his PhD in Medical Biophysics. He joined the faculty as an Associate Professor in 2016 and was appointed an Assistant Professor in 2019. He was a driving force behind establishing a MSc in Surgery Program and serves as Chair of the Program and Graduate Chair for the Department of Surgery. Additionally, he has served as a delegate for the School in establishing international partnerships. He is a passionate educator, investing significant time in training the next generation of clinician-scientists.

Dr. Lawendy is recognized as a global leader for his studies on the traumatic condition known as compartment syndrome (CS). He pioneered the use of novel carbon monoxide treatment and in 2016, obtained a patent for the approach. As a surgeon, he also worked tirelessly to establish an outpatient surgical care centre for patients in Southwestern Ontario.

Dr. Lawendy has extended his passion for patient care to volunteer initiatives, volunteering to help earthquake victims in Pakistan, victims of war and conflict in Yemen and supporting Team Broken Earth missions in Haiti.

Dr. Azadeh Reyhani, DDS’12
Young Alumni Award – Dentistry

Dr. Reyhani completed a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. While completing her dental education, she founded the DOCSKids program at the School, which aims to provide preventative oral health education to children and youth who have little to no dental insurance.

Continuing this initiative, she founded Junior Smiles at the University of Toronto in 2014, as a resident in the Master of Science in Orthodontics program. Dr. Reyhani remains the President of both community outreach programs, which continue to provide dental students with unique perspectives and valuable experience.

During her postgraduate training, Dr. Reyhani also worked as a clinical instructor at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. Her research in cleft lip and palate patients is recognized as a significant contribution to the field of cleft and craniofacial care.

After graduating, Dr. Reyhani entered private practice and became the owner of a leading orthodontic practice with locations in Woodbridge and Bolton, Ontario.

Dr. Supriya Singh, MD’14
Community Service Award

Dr. Singh is a strong example of a compassionate, community-minded medical professional. She has developed and enhanced international humanitarian efforts and continues to be an active volunteer within the London community.

She is currently completing her residency training in Orthopaedic Surgery at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. She graduated with her Doctor of Medicine degree from the School in 2014.

Dr. Singh joined Team Broken Earth (TBE), a Canadian medical relief initiative, with the vision of starting a surgical spine mission based out of London. She recruited a team of senior surgeons and nurses, fundraised and organized the first London-based mission to Port Au Prince, Haiti. She is consistently the highest fundraiser for TBE missions.

Dr. Singh is described as having an unmatched kindness and compassion for others. She considers her accomplishments and community engagement part of her responsibility to make the world a better place.

Brad Urquhart, BSc’01, PhD’06
Young Alumni Award

Urquhart obtained his BSc and PhD degrees in Pharmacology and Toxicology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. He joined the faculty in 2009 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2015. He is recognized as one of the School’s strongest educators, with a natural gift for teaching and using creative ways to spark curiosity in students, and is currently serving as Associate Dean, Basic Medical Sciences Undergraduate Education.

Urquhart leads a very strong research program on drug metabolism in the kidney, with 55 published manuscripts to date. As a principal investigator, he has established strong research funding, with current grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Kidney Foundation. He has been invited to present his research at many institutions and conferences across North America.

Urquhart is dedicated to promoting and advancing the discipline of pharmacology in Canada. He serves as the Treasurer and Chair of the Annual Meeting for the Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CSPT). His contributions as Chair of the Scientific Programming Committee are recognized as directly contributing to two outstanding conferences in 2017 and 2018 and the ongoing success of the CSPT.