Q&A with Dr. Davy Cheng

Dr. Cheng has been serving as Acting Dean since October 2018. It’s been a very busy 13 months with several projects on the go. He sat down with us to answer a few questions and share updates on the most recent activities at the School. 

What major projects have been and will continue to be a focus for the School?
The start of the academic year and fall season always bring with it the budget process. It’s been a major priority for me and leaders during the past few months and it will intensify throughout November and December as we prepare all the documents for the University. 

I am pleased that the initial construction work supporting the BioMedical Research Facility has begun. This project is set to break ground in early 2020, and it’s great to see our plans moving forward. 

I’m also pleased that we are moving forward with the relocation of the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics to the Western Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine Building. An integrated Centre for Population Health, Family Medicine and Public Health will be established in 2020.

I’ve spent some time abroad during the past two months in the Middle East, Hong Kong and China, continuing to develop partnerships with international universities. Each of these partnerships leads to new exchange training and research opportunities for learners, trainees and faculty and they are very important to our mission. 

This fall, we launched a renewed curriculum for the Doctor of Medicine program, which is competency-based. The curriculum took more than a year to develop and engaged students and faculty throughout. We are also continuing the transition to competency-based medical education for our postgraduate programs. The Continuing Professional Development program underwent its accreditation this month and in November our PGME program will undergo accreditation. 

Recently, we hosted hundreds of alumni during Homecoming Weekend. The School held several events including the 50th anniversary of Clinical Neurological Sciences; a panel discussion on burnout and mental health moderated by André Picard with Drs. Ernest Chan, Jeremy Chitpin, Gillian Kernaghan, Mithu Sen, Javeed Sukhera, and Dentistry student Christine Huynh; a lecture with Dr. Danyaal Raza, MD’09, the Dean’s Distinguished Lecturer; and an alumni lunch, cocktail reception and brunch. It was a busy and fun weekend where we celebrated the School and enjoyed the company of alumni from around the world. 

You mentioned the budget. What can our teams across the School expect with this process?
We are focused on refining the second year of the two-year budget cycle. We are at the mid-term of the cycle, so every Department and academic unit is fine-tuning their budgets to be fiscally responsive to the external and internal challenges and opportunities.

What updates can you provide on the major recruitments related to Vice Deans, Chairs and Chair/Chiefs?
Recruitment has been ongoing for a number of leadership positions. During the past few weeks, I was pleased to announce that Dr. Chris Watling has accepted the role as Director of the Centre for Education Research & Innovation; Dr. Andrea Lum has accepted the role as Vice Dean, Faculty Affairs; and Dr. Sandra Northcott has accepted the role of Associate Dean, Learner Equity & Wellness. Some of the ongoing recruitment is related to the Vice Dean, Basic Medical Sciences, Chair in Microbiology and Immunology and Chair/Chiefs in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Oncology, and Paediatrics.

Can you provide an update on the Efficiency Working Group project? 
Lisa Johnson is working on this project and she will be providing feedback to the Senior Leadership Council, the Executive Committee of the Schulich Council and then will be sharing it with the rest of the School. I’m looking forward to this project moving forward. 

What projects are coming up in the next few months that faculty and staff should be aware of?
On the clinical side, we are hoping to get a clearer picture of the Ontario Health Teams (OHT) and how these will be impacting our teaching hospitals. We are supportive of these teams at the hospital and provincial level. The School, with the MEDICI Centre, co-hosted the Rapid-Improvement Support and Exchange Program supported by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in London for clinical partners in the Southwestern Ontario regions. This program is intended to provide technical support for rapid learning and improvement by Ontario Health Teams. I am looking forward to the roll out of the OHT in Southwestern Ontario.

We are looking forward to hearing about the outcomes of the Canada Research Chairs expansion at the University, which I expect will be available very soon. 

The Imaging Pathogens for Knowledge Translation Facility will become fully operational in the coming months. We’ve had the opportunity to tour industry leaders and alumni through the facility and we look forward to the outstanding work that will begin in the coming months.