History of Medicine Days in Calgary


In early March (typically the weekend before the March break), the University of Calgary hosts a 2-day, national History of Medicine Days conference at which medical students and humanities students from across Canada present posters and oral presentations on their research in the history of medicine. Abstracts are submitted in the first week of January.

HMD Calgary 2024

Congratulations to the 43 SSMD students who participated in the 2024 HMD Calgary conference!  Special shout out to award winners Maryam Othman, Med2027; Hannah Hronyecz, Med2026; Robin Hong, Med2027; Bowen Xia, Med2026; William Herspiegel, Med2026; Chloe Pulver, Med2027; Gregory Anagnostopoulos, Med2027; Nicholas Lee, Med2026; Sydney Timmermans, Med2027; Katie Chen, Med2027; Rachel Simpson, Med2026.

Collage of HMD Calgary participants and presenters

History of Medicine Days 2024 Program 


HMD Calgary 2023

Western contingent at 2023 HMD Calgary March 17-18, 2023 at the U of Calgary: Jelena Poleksic, Yashawani Chauhan, Ashvent Malik, Daniel Tamburri, Claire Vanelli, Andrea Wang, Brian Cho, Heather Schwartz-Narbonne, Rahman Ladak, Alisiya Petrushkevich, Aishwarya Kulkarni, Helen Jin, Wen Teng Hou, Swati Sood, Matthew Lawrence, Tarquin Opperman, Sandy Wong, Nicholas James, Chris Zajner, Ashrita Durvasula, Hannah Skarnikat, Danielle Vucenovic, Lina Ghattas.

At HMD Calgary 2023 nine universities represented, with SSMD student participation equaling 50% of the program. Western had the largest contingent (with 22 presentations delivered by 23 SSMD students). The second largest contingent was U of Calgary (11 students).

  • TOTAL of 32 oral presentations at HMD Calgary 2023 – of which 15 SSMD presentations (16 students) compared with 9 U of Calgary students
  • TOTAL of 12 poster presentations at HMD Calgary 2023 – of which 7 SSMD posters/students (compared with 2 U of Calgary posters/students)
  • TOTAL of 18 awards (6 categories) – of which 9 awards (at least 1 award in each of the 6 categories) earned by SSMD presentations

Who are our SSMD students at HMD Calgary this year?

  • 1st Year med students: 8
  • 2nd Year med students: 10
  • 3rd Year med students: 4
  • 4th Year med students: 1

HMD Calgary Presentations (22) by SSMD students:

  1. Birds, Birdcages, and Bedlam: Visualizing the Victorian Asylum through Material Culture – Jelena Poleksic, Meds 2023 PRIZE AWARDED:  1st Place “Best Presentation in History of Women’s Medicine / Public Health”
  2. “Bedrest is Bunk” Interrogating the Regimen of Rest in Treating 19th-Century Hysteria – Yashawani Chauhan, Meds 2026 PRIZE AWARDED:  3rd Place “Best Presentation in History of Women’s Medicine / Public Health”
  3. On the Borderline: Otto Kernberg’s Continued Influence on the Conceptualization and Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder – Ashvent Malik, Meds 2024 & Daniel Tamburri, Meds 2024
  4. The Great Gas Debate: An Exploration of the Origins and Differences in 19th Century Anesthetic Practices between the United States and the United Kingdom – Claire Vanelli, Meds 2025 PRIZE AWARDED:  1st Place “Best Overall Presentation”
  5. “My Name is NO”: The Discovery of Nitric Oxide and the Development of its Medical Uses – Andrea Wang, Meds 2026PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place “Best Presentation in History of Surgery”
  6. The Gate Control Theory of Pain: How the Medical Community Reacts to New and Bold Ideas – Brian Cho, Meds 2026
  7. “Remedy as bad as the Disease”: Discourses about Vaccination Surrounding the 1901 St. Louis and Camden Tragedies – Heather Schwartz-Narbonne, Meds 2025 PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place “Best Presentation in History of Women’s Medicine / Public Health”
  8. The Innovation Lag between the Invention and Adoption of Mammography for Breast Cancer Screening: A Canadian Study of ‘Best Practices’ – Rahman Ladak, Meds 2025
  9. More Similarities than Differences in Caring for the Sick and the Dead: An Analysis of Boccaccio’s Account of the 14th Century Bubonic Plague in Comparison with the COVID-19 Pandemic – Alisiya Petrushkevich, Meds 2026
  10. “Some Homicides Are Justified”: Sue Rodriguez and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the Court of Public Opinion – Aishwarya Kulkarni, Meds 2026
  11. Reconstructing Identity: Dr. Harold Gillies and the Advent of Surgery for the Soul – Helen Jin, Meds 2025 PRIZE AWARDED:  3rd Place “Best Overall Presentation”
  12. Perseverance or Recklessness? The Complicated Narrative surrounding Cardiac Transplantation and the Role of Dr. Norman Shumway – Wen Teng Hou, Meds 2026
  13. X-Rays: History of an Accidental Discovery which Revolutionized Medical Imaging – Swati Sood, Meds 2024 PRIZE AWARDED:  3rd Place “Best Use of Audio-Visual”
  14. Who Cares about Multidisciplinary Care? A Lesson Exemplified through the Diagnosis of Hirschsprung’s Disease – Matthew Lawrence, Meds 2025
  15. Old Dog, New Trick: The Longevity of Catgut with Antisepsis – Tarquin Opperman, Meds 2025
  16. From Head to Tool: Mapping Dermatomes Through the Ages – Sandy Wong, Meds 2025
  17. Mutilation in Neurosurgery: A Comparison of the Factors Enabling the Harm Committed by Walter Freeman and Christopher Duntsch – Nicholas James, Meds 2024
  18. Societal Influences on Psychosurgery: Values Guiding its Adoption, Demise, and Return – Chris Zajner, Meds 2025
  19. From Metal Hooks to Modern Plastics: The Evolution of the Speculum and the Role of Medical Professionals in the Adoption and Use of Medical Devices – Ashrita Durvasula, Meds 2025 PRIZE AWARDED:  1st Place “Best Poster Presentation”
  20. “Women’s Work”: Sociocultural Factors Contributing to Demographic Transition in the Field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology – Hannah Skarnikat, Meds 2026
  21. New Century, Same Struggle: The Grapple Between Optometry and Ophthalmology – Danielle Vucenovic, Meds 2026
  22. Delayed Adoption of the Diagnostic Lumbar Puncture: Spurred by Procedure Limitations or Individual Voices? – Lina Ghattas, Meds 2025 PRIZE AWARDED:  1st Place “Best Presentation in Internal Medicine”

HMD Calgary 2022

Schulich Medicine students delivered strong presentations and won awards at this year’s national History of Medicine Days (HMD) conference in Calgary (held on Zoom) on March 25 and 26, 2022.  The 2-day virtual event was a full and engaging program!

Congratulations to all participants!  In comparison with other Canadian universities, Western’s Schulich Medicine contingent of participants collected the most presentation awards again this year. Purple and proud!

  • Rania Belhadjhamida, Med2024 -- “Consent and Pain: Investigating Dr. J. Marion Sims’ Experimental Surgeries and His Complicated Legacy” PRIZE AWARDED:  1st Place “Best Presentation in History of Surgery”
  • Rahman Ladak, Med2025 -- “Neither ‘Rushed’ nor ‘New’: Situating the Covid-19 mRNA Vaccine within the History of mRNA-based Vaccine Approaches for Infectious Diseases” PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place “Best Poster Presentation (Overall)”
  • Kevin Lane, Med2023 -- “Challenges in the Adoption of a new Medical Technology: A Case Study of Fundus Photography in the Monitoring of Eye Disease” PRIZE AWARDED:  3rd Place “Best Poster Presentation (Overall)”
  • Andrew Nguyen, Med2024 -- “Let’s Talk About It: How the Role of Psychotherapy in Psychiatric Practices Evolved as a Response to the Mental Health Crisis in the Wake of Deinstitutionalization”
  • Arjun Patel, Med2024 -- “Life Expectancy in the Nascent People’s Republic of China: The Role of Barefoot Doctors”   PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place “Best Presentation (Overall)”
  • Emily Stephenson, Med2020 (now PGY-2) “The Psychosomatic Theory of Ulcerative Colitis: From Psychoanalysis to Prefrontal Lobotomies” PRIZE AWARDED:  3rd Place “Best Presentation (Overall)”
  • Claire Vannelli, Med2025 -- “Searching for Precedent of Shifting Public Health Messaging – A Case Study of Tuberculosis Public Health Posters, 1910s–1960s”   PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place “Best Use of Audio/Visual in Presentation (Overall)”
  • Snow Wangding, Med2024 -- “Windows to the Soul: A Critical Comparison and Contrast of Galen and Avicenna’s Texts on Cataracts and How They Contributed to the Specialization of Modern Ophthalmology”   PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place “Best Presentation in History of Surgery”
  • Chris Zajner, Med2025 -- “Ignorance or Bliss? The Impact of Globalization and Medical Theory on the Societal Response to the 1989 Russian Flu”   PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place “Best Presentation in History of Internal Medicine”

HMD Calgary 2021

Schulich Medicine students delivered strong presentations and won awards at this year’s national History of Medicine Days (HMD) conference in Calgary (held on Zoom) on March 18, 19 and 20, 2021.  The 3-day virtual event incorporated abstracts from last year's cancelled conference as well as new student projects, which resulted in a full and engaging program! 

15 Schulich Medicine students participated, and 7 prizes awarded!  Congratulations to all students! 

Oral Presentations: 9 student presentations

  • Healer or Hag? Female Medical Practitioners and Witch Accusations in 17th-Century New England – Nicole Lam, Med2022
    PRIZE AWARDED:  3rd Place Best Use of Audio-Visual Technology
  • Psychiatrists, Obstetricians, and the Insane Woman: Puerperal Insanity in Canada, 1880-1910 – Jelena Poleksic, Med2022
  • ‘Ideal Obstetrics’ – How the Field of Obstetrics Progressed by Leaving Women Behind – Ilinca Georgescu, Med2022
  • Disposing of a Reusable Gown: A History of Sustainable Surgical Attire – Taj Brar, Med2022
    PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place Dr Peter Cruse Award for the Best Presentation in History of Surgery
  • The Independent Inventions of General Anesthesia in 19th-Century Japan and United States: Why the Latter Revolutionized Surgery while the Former was Forgotten? – Arjun Patel, Med2024
    PRIZE AWARDED: 1st Place Dr Peter Cruse Award for the Best Presentation in History of Surgery
  • Patients Awake during Neurosurgery? The Awake Craniotomy and the Role of the Patient as Innovative 20th-Century Surgery – Andrea Kassey, Med2023
    PRIZE AWARDED:  3rd Place Dr Peter Cruse Award for the Best Presentation in History of Surgery
  • The Evolution of Asthma Treatment and Management: A Review of the Past Century – Yechan Kim, Med2023
  • Not Only to Conceal: Investigating the Interplay between Disease and Clothing Fashion on the Patient Experience – Nick Maizlin, Med2023
    PRIZE AWARDED:  2nd Place Best Use of Audio-Visual Technology
  • Unpacking the Medicine Chest Clause of Treaty No. 6 – Melissa Chopcian, Med2022
    PRIZE AWARDED:  1st Place Best Presentation Overall

Poster Presentations: 6 student presentations

  • The Medical Journal: Genesis of a Genre – Anthony Ziccarelli, Med2022
    PRIZE AWARDED:  1st Place Best Poster Presentation
  • Could Someone Else’s Breast be Best? A History of Donor Breast Milk in Canada – Alexandra Sylvester, Med2022 
  • “The Building of Trauma-Informed Care in Medicine.”– Lama Mouneimne, Med2022
  • To Infinity and Beyond: Comparing the Early Challenges of Aerospace Medicine to the Challenges of Space Tourism Today – Sarah Allarakhia, Med2022
  • Discovery rediscovered: Tropical Medicine and Indigenous Knowledge in Ceylon – Tharsan Kanagalingam, Med2023
  • Not Criminally Responsible: The Changing Landscape of Forensic Psychiatry and Mental Illness in Canadian Legislation – Joella Ho, Med2022

HMD Calgary 2019

group photo of HMD Calgary 2019 attendees 2019 Attendees: Katherine Li, Kishor Johnson, Lydia Reynolds-Royer, Cyrus Ahmadi, Malik El-Feghi, Sean Wong, Sarah Cocco, Ariel Gershon, Adrina Zhong, Elise Quint, Sydney Eaton, Daniel Semenov, Jessica Howlett, Timothy Varghese, Wesley Tin, Taj Brar, Gabriel Soicher, Layla Amer Ali, Brenna Hansen, North de Pencier, Jacob Wihlidal, Bojana Radan, Katie Marriott, Malory Ross, Michael Z. Huang, YooJung Choi, Nicole Lam, Sandra Botros, Jelena Poleksic, Albert Vo, Alina Abbasi, Matthew Lund, Michelle Kwong, Professor Paul Potter (2019 HMD Keynote Speaker)

Prizes awarded to Schulich Medicine students:Taj Brar - 2nd Place Best Overall Presentation - "Controlling the Physician’s Gaze: Blood Lead Levels and the War for Leaded Gasoline"
Jacob Wihlidal - 1st Place Best Presentation on the History of Surgery - "The Breakthrough of Bovinae and the Bicuspid: The Challenges and Triumphs of Dr. Alain Carpentier’s Cardiac Valve Xenograft and their Impact on North American Cardiac Surgery"
Wesley Tin - 2nd Place Best Presentation on the History of Internal Medicine - "Cause for Pause: The Overzealous Media Coverage of CTE and its Negative Effects"
Cyrus Ahmadi & Malik El-Feghi - 3rd Place Best Presentation on the History of Internal Medicine - "Sphygmology and the Canon of Medicine: An Ancient and Modern Comparison of Ibn Sina’s Study of Pulse and its Use as a Diagnostic Tool"
Sarah Cocco - 1st Place Best Presentation on Women in the History of Medicine / History of Public Health - "Lessons from Woodstock ’69: The Tumultuous History of Mass Gathering Medicine (MGM)"
Michael Z. Huang & Yoo Jung Choi - 1st Place Best Poster Presentation - "Palm-N-Turn: The Impact of Child-Resistant Medications Lids"
Nicole Lam - 2nd Place Best Poster Presentation - "Robbing Rights and Dignity After Death: The Illegal Dissections of African American Cadavers by Medical Schools in Late 18th Century America"
Jelena Poleksic - 3rd Place Best Poster Presentation - "Controversy, Disappointment, and Hope: Coverage of World Health Organization Public Health Emergency Operations in Canadian News Media"
Jessica Howlett - 1st Place Best Use of Audio Visual - "Resistance to Change: Hypertension, Heart Disease, and Skepticism in Medicine"

HMD Calgary 2018

Western contingent for History of Medicine Days Calgary 2018 Robin Liu, Michael Chen, Mathew Roche, John Pan, North de Pencier, Kaitlyn Hayes, Jeremy Kwok, Madeline Arkle, Sean Wong, Mark Krongold, Michael A. Baker, Wesley Tin, Carlos Muzlera, Lakshmi Kamala, Ryan Chevalier, Fei Fei Shao, Emily Stephenson, Bryony Dorrington, Layla Amer, Erik Mandawe, Ariel Gershon, Daniel Stojanovic, Matthew He

Prizes awarded to Schulich Medicine students:Robin Liu - 1st Place Best Presentation on Women in the History of Medicine and Public Health-"Between Scylla and Charybdis: The Birth of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the Evolving Concept of Fetal Rights"
Michael Chen - 3rd Place Best Presentation on Women in the History of Medicine and Public Health - "A Panel Decision for Every Woman: History of Abortions and the Therapeutic Abortion Committee in London, Ontario, 1969-1988"
Madeline Arkle - 2nd Place Best Presentation on the History of Internal Medicine - "Picking up the Scent: An Exploration of Odor as a Marker of Disease"
Matthew He - 3rd PlaceBest Presentation on the History of Internal Medicine - "Taking on the State: How One Brave Doctor's Letter Curbed the 2003 SARS Epidemic in China"
Ariel Gershon- I - "How Amytal Changed Psychopharmacology: Off Label Uses of Sodium Amytal from 1920- 1940"
Matthew Roche - 2nd PlaceBest Presentation on the History of Surgery - "Murder, Mystery, and Medicine: An Examination of the Doctors behind Sherlock Holmes and their Influence on Pathology in Late 19th-Century Scotland"
Lakshmi Kamala - 2nd Place Best Poster Presentation - "History of Advanced Trauma Life Support: An Analysis of the Revolutionary Changes in Trauma Management Training"

HMD Calgary 2017

HMD in Calgary 2017 Western University contingentJamie Riggs, Meds 2020; Sandra Botros, Meds 2019; Tehmina Ahmed, Meds 2017; Vanessa de Melo, Meds 2017; Tommy Lin, Meds 2019; Ariel Gershon, Meds 2019; North de Pencier, Meds 2019; Stephanie Chilton, Meds 2019; Kishor Johnson, Meds 2020; Matthew Lund, Meds 2020; Fei Fei Shao, Meds 2019; Madeline Arkle, Meds 2018; Daniel Stojanovic, Meds 2018; Adam Kwinter, Meds 2019; Katherina Baranova, Meds 2020; Erica Cleto, Meds 2019; Stephanie Hong, Meds 2018; Laura McLeod Meds, 2017; Ryan Vamos, Meds 2020; Michael Chen, Meds 2018; Anish Naidu, Meds 2019; Stephanie Mokrycke, Meds 2017; Thien Dang, 2019; Julian Rizos Meds, 2020; Lakshmi Kamala, Meds 2019; Nick Kormier Meds 2017 

Prizes awarded to Schulich Medicine students:Best Overall: Kishor Johnson, Meds 2020, 1st Place, Japanese Biological Warfare and Human Experimentation: An Investigation into Japanese Medical Experiments during WW II and the Subsequent American Cover-Up
Tehmina Ahmed, Meds 2017, 2nd Place, Deconstructing the Narrative of Women’s Pain: An Exploration of “Women Diseases” and Gendered Attitudes in Medicine Today
Dr. Clara Christie Award for the Best Presentation on Women in the History of Medicine and Public Health: 
North de Pencier, Meds 2019, “Some Nurses and Doctors Don’t Love the People:” Indigenous Voices and their Frustrations in the Archives of the Sioux Lookout Zone Hospital, 1969-1996.”
Audiovisual award: Matthew Lund, Meds 2020, 1st place, The Role of Class in the Understanding of Cholera in 19th-Century England
Ariel Gershon, Meds 2019, 2nd Place, “The Bones Tell the Story:” How Radiologic-Pathologic Correlation Helped Medicalize Child Maltreatment
Erica Cleto, Meds 2019, 3rd Place, Objects of Ridicule, Subjects of Reverence: Dissecting Student Depictions of the Clinical Anatomy Experience in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Best Overall Poster: Ryan Vamos, Meds 2020, 1st Place, Practical Dissonance: The Nineteenth Century Decline of Music as Medical Therapy".
Lakshmi Kamala, Meds 2019, 2nd Place, Growth of Emergency Medicine as a Medical Specialty
Anish Naidu, Meds 2019, 3rd Place, Demand, Technology and Innovation: The Evaluation of Materials Used in the Manufacture of Prosthetic Limbs

HMD Calgary 2016

HMD Calgary 2016 attendeesStudents at HMD 2016 Conference: Top Row (L->R): Ariel Gershon, Adam Kwinter, North de Pencier, Ranjanna Bhattacharjee, Madeline Arkle, Michael Chen, Hao Li, Mathew Volpin
Bottom Row: Nicholas Cormier, Rob Bobotsis, Vanessa DeMelo, Daniel Stojanovic, Asma Ali, Nicole Arseneau.

Prizes awarded to Schulich Medicine students:Public Health/Women's History 3rd place: Ranjanna Bhattacharjee
Public Health / Women's History 2nd place: Vanessa DeMelo
Public Health / Women's History 1st place: Nick Cormier
Best Use of A/V or Analysis of A/V 3rd place: Daniel Stojanovic
Best Use of A/V or Analysis of A/V 2nd place: Nicole Arseneau
Best Use of A/V or Analysis of A/V 1st place: Adam Kwinter
Best Poster 3rd place: Michael Chen
Best Overall 3rd place: North de Pencier

HMD Calgary 2015

HMD Calgary 2015 AttendeesStudents at HMD 2015 Conference: Vanessa DeMelo, Jessica Bryce, Daniel Stojanovic, Daniel Liu, Maddy Arkle, Cindy Zhu, Rob Bobotsis, Stephanie Mokrycke, Hannah MacKenzie, and Babak Aberumand.

At the 2015 conference, four awards were presented to our Schulich Medicine students:

Rob Bobotsis, Meds 2018 -- 1st place for best history of surgery presentation
Vanessa DeMelo, Meds 2017 -- 2nd place for best presentation overall
Jessica Bryce, Meds 2018 -- 2nd place for best history of medicine presentation
Cindy Ningfu Zhu, Meds 2018 -- 2nd place for best audio/visual presentation

HMD Calgary 2014

HMD Calgary 2014 AttendeesStudents at HMD 2014 Conference:Kevin Dueck, Pallavi Sriram, Justine Denomme, Hannah MacKenzie, James Ahlin.

The 2014 presentations of Hannah MacKenzie, Meds 2016 and Kevin Dueck, Meds 2016 delivered later at the History of Medicine Colloquium at Western were awarded the Rowntree Prize in Medical History and the Harvey Club of London Prize respectively.

HMD Calgary 2013

HMD Calgary 2013 AttendeesStudents at HMD 2013 Conference: Caitlin Chang, Lauren Gordon, Thomas Fear, Alexander Istl, Kevin Dueck, Horace Cheng.

At the 2013 conference, Horace Chang, Meds 2013 earned 1st prize for Best Use of Audio Visual for his presentation. The research project of Alexandra Istl, Meds 2015 was later awarded The William B. Bean Student Research Award by the American Osler Society, and she delivered this presentation at the 2014 American Osler Society meeting in Oxford, England.

Conference Programs

Abstracts Booklets