Making pathology come alive
Jennifer Parraga, BA’93
Dr. Christina McCord, DDS’09, knows that she is filling big shoes stepping in to the role Dr. Tom Daley held for many years at Schulich Dentistry as an oral pathologist.
But she’s got what it takes, thanks to training and mentorship from Dr. Daley, as well as Dr. Mark Darling, and thanks to a love of what she does.
“It’s a bit intimidating to be following in Dr. Daley’s footsteps,” Dr. McCord said. “He is a legend in oral pathology. But everyone has been very supportive, so I’ve hit the ground running.”
Born and raised in Toronto, Dr. McCord completed her undergraduate degree in kinesiology at Dalhousie University before heading to London for dentistry. Exposed to oral pathology early on and experiencing the passionate teachings of Drs. Daley and Darling, she was intrigued to learn more.
After graduation, she completed her specialty training in oral pathology and oral medicine at University of Toronto. She returned to Schulich Dentistry in 2015, this time with her family, to carry on the long-standing tradition of excellence in oral pathology teaching.
Today, Dr. McCord and Dr. Darling share teaching responsibilities for the oral diseases courses, which first-, second- and third-year dentistry students take. She also teaches oral surgery, general practice dental and pathology residents.
Being in familiar surroundings in the Medical and Dental Sciences buildings, and seeing some of her former faculty members in the hallways, has added to her comfort level as she embarks on this new phase of her career, striving to uphold the standards and reputation of the oral pathology disease program.
“The best teachers make teaching look so easy, but a lot of work goes into it, and there is always room for self-improvement,” Dr. McCord said.
In addition to taking advantage of learning opportunities to build her skills, Dr. McCord says that constructive feedback from students has also helped to enrich her approach to her courses.
For her, teaching is all about the students.
“My goal is to create a great learning experience for the students, so that they can feel prepared to go out into the world and potentially make a life changing diagnosis,” she said.
As a recent graduate, Dr. McCord understands just how challenging the dentistry program is and encourages the future dentists she teaches to seek support from one another throughout their training.
When she’s not teaching, Dr. McCord can be found providing patient care in her extremely busy clinical practice at London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) University Hospital. She’s also participates in the Oral Pathology Diagnostic Service, which provides diagnostic pathology services to dental and medical professionals in Ontario and beyond.
Rounding out her days, the young professor is actively building a research program investigating pathologic lesions of the mouth with a specific focus on premalignant and potentially malignant lesions, as well as a strong interest in human papillomavirus associated oral dysplasia. She’s pleased to have dental students, and a master’s trainee currently working with her, and she is enthusiastic about offering future opportunities to other students with interests in oral pathology.
Dr. McCord feels fortunate to be in the place she is right now – teaching, working with patients, performing research and making oral pathology come alive.
“I really care deeply about the School, and I love what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s just so fulfilling to be working with students and sharing some of my experience with them.”