2016 Alumni of Distinction and Dean's Distinguished Lecture Award recipients

Congratulations to the 2016 Alumni of Distinction Award recipients Drs. Geoffrey Pickering, PhD’90; Jeff Blackmer, MD’95; Bruce Hill, DDS, MClD’90; Brenda Thomson, BSc’78, DDS’84; Gabriele De Luca, MD’06; Les Kalman, DDS’99; and Michael Myers, MD’66 (Dean’s Distinguished Lecture).

Dr. Geoffrey Pickering, PhD’90
Excellence in Basic Science Research Award

Dr. Geoffrey Pickering has enjoyed an outstanding career as a clinician scientist. He is a professor with the Department of Medicine with cross-appointment to the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Biochemistry at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, and a cardiologist at London Health Sciences Centre. He is also a scientist and co-director of the Vascular Biology Group at Robarts Research Institute. Dr. Pickering is known for being a prolific researcher, gifted teacher and an exceptional mentor.

After receiving his medical degree and residency training in internal medicine, Dr. Pickering completed his cardiology residency at Western University in 1988. He began his PhD with the Department of Medical Biophysics in 1987. Following the completion of his PhD, Dr. Pickering completed post-doctoral training in vascular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Dr. Pickering’s research identifies pathways by which muscles contribute to vascular disease. His laboratory has made advances in the field of smooth muscle cell motility, longevity and interactions with the extracellular matrix. He has published a total of 100 manuscripts.

Dr. Jeff Blackmer, MD’95
Professional Achievement Award – Medicine

Dr. Jeff Blackmer is an active member of the medical staff with The Rehabilitation Centre in Ottawa, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, the executive director with the Office of Ethics, Professionalism and International Affairs, and the vice-president, Medical Professionalism for the Canadian Medical Association.

He graduated from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University with his MD in 1995 he pursued and completed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation, as well as a Master’s of Health Science in Medical Ethics.

In addition to his leadership positions, he continues clinical practise and focuses on research. As one of his nominators eloquently wrote, “teaching and research are stitched into his DNA.”

More recently, Dr. Blackmer became a recognizable figure nationally as he began a journey to engage the Canadian public in a national dialogue on the issues of palliative care, advanced care planning and medical aid in dying. Working with Maclean’s Magazine, he was the lead architect for a series of town-hall meetings held across the country, which engaged thousands of Canadians on the subject of medical aid in dying. His work has changed the dialogue on that subject in this country forever.

Dr.  Blackmer is being recognized for his wisdom, his tireless work ethic, his expert knowledge, his team leadership, his passion and his keen political awareness.

Dr. Bruce Hill, DDS, MClD’90
Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry

Dr. Bruce Hill is an expert and leader in the field of orthodontics. A graduate from the Graduate Orthodontics Program at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, Dr. Hill has served as an adjunct professor for more than 20 years and has taught more than 60 graduate orthodontic residents at Schulich Dentistry. He is a dedicated educator and has a great teaching style, making it easy for residents to learn all aspects of clinical orthodontics. He has participated as an examiner on a number of committees and has invited many residents to visit his practice and experience first-hand all aspects of a busy orthodontic office.

With a keen interest in the treatment of special needs children and adults, Dr. Hill began an informal sub-speciality in special needs orthodontics. In 2001, he established a program with the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex to treat children and teens pro-bono. To date, more than 300 children have received comprehensive treatment from Dr. Hill and his staff.

Dr. Hill has and continues to serve in a number of governance roles including Foundation Western and the Great Lakes Association of Orthodontists. He is also the Canadian representative to the Executive Committee of the UWO Graduate Orthodontic Alumni Association.

Dr. Brenda Thomson, BSc’78, DDS’84
Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry

With two Western degrees and many years serving on the Dental Alumni Society and acting in the role as social director for her graduating class, Dr. Brenda Thomson has strong ties to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Western University.

Dr. Thomson has been in private practice in Mississauga since graduating in 1984. In addition to the many hours she has dedicated to her more than 2,600 patients, she has also been involved in her community.

Dr. Thomson has served in a number of roles with the Halton-Peel Dental Association including president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and editor of communications, as well as serving on a variety of committees. During her tenure as President she is credited with dramatically expanding the continuing education program and growing the membership.

Dr. Thomson has also served as a member of the Ontario Dental Association (ODA), working with a number of committees and services. And she has served as president of the Women Dentists Association of Ontario for two terms. 

Dr. Thomson has been recognized with the ODA Committee Service Award and the Merit Award; the HPDA Service Award; the American College of Dentistry Fellowship; and the Pierre Fauchard Academy Fellowship.

Dr. Gabriele De Luca, MD’06
Young Alumni Award

Dr. Gabriele De Luca graduated with his MD in 2006 from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University. Since that time he has gone on to achieve tremendous success in clinical medicine, scientific research, and medical education.

While a medical student, Dr. De Luca interrupted his studies to pursue a PhD at Oxford University, with funding from the Clarendon Scholarship as well as several studentship awards. He completed his neurology residency at the Mayo Clinic, where he served as chief resident. Following his residency, Dr. De Luca returned to Oxford to complete a fellowship supported by the John F. Kurtzke Clinician-Scientist Development Award and was subsequently recruited as a faculty member in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

As an associate professor, Dr. De Luca has established an internationally recognized group focused on the neuropathology of multiple sclerosis (MS) and neurogenerative diseases. He has received more than $1.7 million in grant research funding and has made several fundamental discoveries about how genes influence clinical outcomes and pathological phenotypes in MS.

He was recently appointed the Director of Clinical Neurosciences Undergraduate Education and is actively engaged in providing continuing education to secondary school biology teachers across the UK. In addition to sitting on a number of boards and steering committees, Dr. De Luca is also a member of Western University’s UK Foundation Board.

Dr. Les Kalman, DDS’99
Community Service Award

Dr. Les Kalman has made a significant contribution to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and serves as a strong role model for all Schulich Dentistry students. His sincerity for helping less fortunate patients demonstrated through the Dental Outreach Community Service (DOCS) program, sets a high standard. He treats his patients with respect and dignity and relates extremely well to the students who describe him as a valued mentor and outstanding teacher.

In 2011, Dr. Kalman took on the leadership of the DOCS program. Since that time, he has formalized and implemented a volunteer-based outreach program into a mandatory component of the fourth-year dental curriculum. He also proposed and developed a fourth-year didactic course to supplement the program; established an annual agency meeting to reinforce collaboration; and implemented treatment delivery at the Schulich Dentistry clinic – to maximize clinical success. He has established new partnerships all in an effort to strengthen DOCS and reach more community members.

Dr. Kalman received his DDS in 1999 from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University and serves as a caring, conscientious and generous educator who enthusiastically promotes DOCS and its work at every opportunity.

Dr. Michael Myers, MD’66
Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Award

Dr. Michael Myers is a specialist in physician health and is known nationally and internationally for his work and support of physician health issues, particularly the stresses on physicians, residents and medical students in the areas of family relationships, marriage and interpersonal interactions at all levels. He has lectured and presented workshops on these topics extensively throughout North America.

His publications includes seven books, more than 150 articles, chapters and videotapes on topics from marital therapy and reproductive technology to the treatment of medical students and physicians and ethics in medical education and suicide.

Dr. Myers graduated with his MD in 1966. He completed his residencies in the United States and served as a professor at the University of British Columbia until 2008. He is currently a professor of clinical psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Behavioral Sciences at SUNY-Downstate Medical Centre in Brooklyn, New York. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the Canadian and American Psychiatric Associations. And in 2008, he was awarded a President’s Commendation by the Canadian Psychiatric Association for his pioneering work and advocacy in the field of physician mental health.