A celebration of distinction

During the past 50 years, the 2016 Schulich Med icine & Dentistry Alumni of Distinction recipients have been optimizing life-long health for people around the world. As their dedication to discovery and innovative care continues, so too will their impact.

By Jennifer Parraga, BA’93

Excellence in Basic Science Research Award

Dr. Geoffrey Pickering, PhD’90

Dr. Geoffrey Pickering is a prolific researcher, gifted teacher and an exceptional mentor. He has enjoyed an outstanding career as a clinician scientist. His research identifies pathways by which muscles contribute to vascular disease, and his laboratory has made advances in the field of smooth muscle cell motility, longevity and interactions with the extracellular matrix. 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 and completed postdoctoral training in vascular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Today, Dr. Pickering is a professor with the Department of Medicine with cross-appointment to the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Biochemistry at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, 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.

Professional Achievement Award—Medicine

Dr. Jeff Blackmer, MD’95

Dr. Jeff Blackmer graduated from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry with his MD and then completed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation, as well as a Master of Health Science in Medical Ethics. He 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.

Recently, Dr. Blackmer became a recognizable figure nationally as he began a journey to engage the Canadian public in a dialogue on the issues of palliative care, advanced care planning and medical assistance 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 was recognized with this award for his wisdom, his tireless work ethic, his expert knowledge, his team leadership, his passion and his keen political awareness.

Community Service Award

Dr. Les Kalman, DDS’99

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 low-income patients through the Dental Outreach Community Service (DOCS) program sets a high standard. It was in 2011 when Dr. Kalman took on the leadership of the DOCS program, and 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 serves as a caring, conscientious and generous educator who enthusiastically promotes DOCS and its work at every opportunity.

Alumni of Distinction—Dentistry

Dr. Brenda Thomson, BSc’78, DDS’84

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

Alumni of Distinction—Dentistry

Dr. Bruce Hill, DDS, MClD’90

Dr. Bruce Hill is an expert and leader in the field of orthodontics. A graduate from the Graduate Orthodontics Program at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, 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 all aspects of a busy orthodontic office first-hand.

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.

Young Alumni Award

Dr. Gabriele De Luca, MD’06

Graduating from medical school a little more than a decade ago, Dr. Gabriele De Luca 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, and he 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.

Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Award

Dr. Michael Myers, MD’66

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 include seven books and 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 is currently a professor of clinical psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Behavioral Sciences at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the Canadian and American Psychiatric Associations. 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.