A new breed of clinician-researcher

Dr. Sandrine deRibaupierre

“Being a clinician alone is pretty boring for me,” Dr. Sandrine deRibaupierre said with a laugh. “When you’re training, it’s great because you’re learning something new every day. But after that, most cases you see are similar and the growth you experience is restricted.”

That’s why the paediatric neurosurgeon loves research. She can return to the fundamental questions of “why does this happen” and “how can we do this better” — the creative, innovative part of her job.

Growing up and completing her training in several countries throughout Europe, Dr. deRibaupierre never expected to settle down in London, Ontario. It was the flexibility and collaborative environment at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry that brought her on board in 2008. In addition to her clinical practice, she is now an associate professor in the Division of Neurosurgery at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

“In general, people here want to collaborate more than they want to compete, which is not the case in other places,” she explained. “As a clinician, I don’t have as much time to dedicate to my research so I rely on collaboration to make things more efficient.”

When she’s not on call, in the clinic or in the operating room, Dr. deRibaupierre focuses on two main areas of research.

The first involves designing new surgical simulators as well as evaluating commercial simulators used to help train residents. If she can discover how to teach residents better using simulation, it would have a significant impact on resident competence and patient safety.

Her second research focus involves observing normal brain behaviour and the variability of different brains using fMRI.

“Working on research that is translational and related to the clinical work you’re doing really feeds your questions,” she said. “I think I’m a better clinician because of the research I’m working on.”

This profile is originally part of a larger research feature story on four of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry's clinician-researchers. Check out the 2015 edition of Rapport Magazine, which will be distributed on September 22, to read the full story.