Today, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to announce this year’s CMA Awards recipients — 14 individuals who are making significant contributions to improving health, health care and the medical profession.
This diverse group of medical students, doctors and an administrator are being recognized for a range of accomplishments, including raising awareness of health inequities, advocating for physicians with disabilities, developing future medical leaders and re-envisioning medical education.
“These individuals’ talent and dedication to redefining health care is inspiring, particularly considering the challenges of the past year. On behalf of the CMA, it’s my honour to help recognize their exceptional work and commitment to care.” – Dr. Ann Collins, CMA president
2021 CMA Awards recipients:
- Dr. Shaf Keshavjee’s research has revolutionized the field of lung transplantation. His innovative work using stem cells and genetic modification to treat and repair injured donor lungs led to the development of the Toronto Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion System, an incubator-like device that keeps lungs alive while outside the body. The device has helped expand the pool of viable donor lungs and enhanced the success of transplantation worldwide. Dr. Keshavjee serves as surgeon-in-chief of the Sprott Department of Surgery at University Health Network and is director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program, one of the largest and most innovative lung transplant programs in the world.
- Following a 20-year career in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Major (Retired) Dr. Karen Breeck is leveraging political and public discourse to raise awareness of the health inequities faced by military women — in and out of uniform. She’s appeared before parliamentary committees studying the treatment of women in the Department of National Defence, outlining the need for systemic culture change and sex- and gender-based analysis for all defence-related programming. In Ottawa, Dr. Breeck co-chairs the Women Veterans Research and Engagement Network, which helps ensure the voices of female veterans are included in all political decisions that affect them.
- Dr. Antoine Payot has dedicated his career to including patients and families in ethical discussions about their care. As a pediatrician and director of the Clinical Ethics Unit at the Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) Sainte-Justine, Dr. Payot ensures physicians receive proper training to deal with difficult ethical situations, like prenatal diagnosis or pediatric mortality. He has also created a French-language program in medical ethics at the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Medicine that combines ethical theory with hands-on experience, featuring patients with lived experience as co-instructors.
- For more than two decades, Rosemary Conliffe has been a central figure in the success of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS). As general manager, she helped coordinate large projects and was influential in helping transform medical students into effective advocates and leaders. Ms. Conliffe was a key support in the creation of the CFMS’ first Lobby Day, an event that evolved into a National Day of Action. More than 60 medical students now travel to Ottawa each year to take part. In May 2018, she helped CFMS launch its National Wellness Program, a new initiative to support and promote student wellness within Canadian medical programs.
- He’s served as a medical director in war zones such as Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq, but it was a disaster right at home, off the coast of Nova Scotia, that shaped Major Trevor Jain’s military and medical career. In 1998, he was called upon to help with the recovery of Swissair Flight 111 and its 229 passengers, for which he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal from the governor general. An emergency physician in Charlottetown, Dr. Jain has taught hundreds of medical students and emergency medicine residents about disaster and crisis response. In 2017, he oversaw the creation of the first BSc in paramedicine program in Canada and is the program’s director.
- While she is known as one of Canada’s top researchers in kidney and cardiovascular disease, Dr. Sofia Ahmed has committed her career to sharing her knowledge with the next generation. Through her mentorship, five research trainees were recognized with 2020 American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney STARS Awards, and three graduate trainees are previous recipients of ASN student scholarships. In 2020, Dr. Ahmed was also recognized for her work leading a health initiative at the University of Calgary that advocates for the incorporation of sex- and gender-based considerations in hypertension and cardiovascular care, research and education.
- In 2011, Calgary psychiatrist Dr. Vera Krejcik faced a major health setback that changed her life and the trajectory of her medical career. After an operation led to paralysis on the left side of her body, she was forced to reassess her dream of practising internal medicine. In adapting to her new reality, Dr. Krejcik became connected to the Canadian Association of Physicians with Disabilities, where she later became president. During her six-year tenure, she advocated for many physicians and helped develop new guidelines for accommodation in residency training programs.
- During the first wave of the pandemic, internist and addictions specialist Dr. Monty Ghosh spearheaded a plan to establish COVID-19 screening programs, isolation spaces and outbreak containment strategies for shelters in downtown Calgary. Within weeks, he became a lead in Alberta’s efforts to minimize the spread of the virus among people experiencing homelessness. These initiatives built on Dr. Ghosh’s pre-pandemic work to provide care for vulnerable communities. He established Alberta Health Services’ first comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment program, including support for individuals to detoxify at home, and in 2020, he helped launch a national hotline that opioid users can call when taking substances alone, in the event of an overdose.
- Halifax general internist Dr. Ashley Miller is passionate about transforming the health care system through technology. When the pandemic struck, she used her expertise in virtual care to establish the province’s first remote monitoring program so patients with COVID-19 could stay at home. Dr. Miller’s work to modernize health care in Nova Scotia began in 2017, when she streamlined the booking and referral system and reduced wait times for non-urgent care from nine months to two months. She was named the province’s chief medical information officer in January 2021.
- While some resident physicians were concerned about the loss of hands-on learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Brandon Tang saw it as an opportunity to re-envision the future of medical education. In 2020, he helped bring together more than 1,500 virtual participants at the International Conference on Residency Education — the world’s largest conference on postgraduate medical education. Dr. Tang has also co-founded a novel medical textbook aimed at providing medical trainees in British Columbia with consultation guides for common internal medicine diagnoses.
- As a medical resident, Dr. Thomas Brothers is already a key player in transforming addictions services in Nova Scotia hospitals. He helped build an inpatient addiction medicine consultation service for hospital patients with medical complications of addiction, as well as developing a protocol to help emergency departments initiate treatment for opioid use disorder. To ensure continuity of care for marginalized patients, Dr. Brothers works with community-based organizations and addiction medicine physicians to review cases and arrange ongoing care.
- Before starting medical school, it was Dr. Meghan Kerr’s work as an outdoor educator — including a 12-day whitewater rafting trip in northern Ontario — that sparked her commitment to fight climate change. In 2019, while still a medical student, she solidified this commitment, rallying health professionals to attend a Toronto climate strike rally that attracted thousands. A believer in sustainability in medicine, she co-coordinated the GreenMeds initiative, the only program in the Greater Toronto Area to help hospitals recycle medical equipment. As a member of the International Federation of Medical Students, Dr. Kerr has attended several United Nations climate summits to promote global climate action.
- It was while studying at Université de Sherbrooke that Dr. Dax Bourcier began his work to empower medical students. Through the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS), he co-chaired a task force to build a national wellness framework for medical schools. Released in April 2021, the framework aims to build wellness curricula and promote mental well-being among students. He has also helped provide medical students with resources to make informed career choices. As chair of the CFMS Health Human Resources Task Force, he helped develop an online tool that enables students to select from 62 medical specialties on the basis of personal interests, location and physician need.
- Third-year medical student Kay Wu is an emerging leader in using technology to transform health care. In 2019, she helped develop a simulation program for McMaster University medical students, allowing them to take medical histories, perform exams, develop treatment plans and order investigations — through a custom medical record system — for simulated patients. Ms. Wu also developed Clearly, a digital tool to improve patient understanding of medical records that is currently being tested within the Hamilton hospital network. During the pandemic, she helped launch an organization that used 3D-printing technology to create more than 22,000 face shields for health care workers in Ontario.