2022 VMDAS Annual Awards
Congratulations to the winners of our 2022 Vancouver Medical Staff Association Annual Awards.
Bobby Miller Award for Excellence in Teaching 2022 winner: Dr. Luck Louis
As an Emergency and Trauma Radiologist at Vancouver Coastal Health and a Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Luck Louis has a passion for teaching and education. He has been a mentor for residents and fellows for over 16 years along with staff and is continually involved in staff training and patient education. He is the current Head of Education of the Emergency and Trauma Radiology team at VGH and a nine-time award recipient of the UBC Radiology Residency for teaching. Dr. Louis’ sub-specialty and interests include Emergency Radiology and Musculoskeletal Ultrasound.
Dr. Louis has led transformative change in educational methods in the Radiology Department. Some of his notable achievements throughout his career include being awarded the Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Award for Teaching Excellence in 2016, being the first Emergency Radiology Fellow trained at VGH and within Canada in 2002 and helping to develop the Emergency Radiology Program at VGH.
Dr. Louis is a part of many continuing education activities at UBC and other institutions, including taking part as a lecturer at the Vancouver Imaging Review for Interesting Cases from Emergency Radiology in 2017, being an invited lecturer for the Canadian Association of General Surgeons in 2020 and a lecturer for the Radiological Society of North America in 2021 for Challenging MSK Emergency Ultrasound Cases. He is also the ACSERT Surgical Correlation Rounds founder and chair and the founder of the Musculoskeletal Ultrasound program. Dr. Louis is the current director of MSK Ultrasound at VGH and UBCH.
Dr. Louis is regularly involved in outreach and education programs to help disseminate knowledge to community practices, trainees, technologists, and patients. He is the Planning Committee Chair for the Acute Care Surgery Emergency Radiology Trauma Correlation Rounds (Accredited RCPSC CME Program) and the iSITES Medical Director (for Interventional Pain Management) at the Change Pain Clinic in Vancouver. Dr. Louis contributes his time to resident noon rounds, resident call and exam preparation sessions, fellows’ lectures, and UBC Medical School undergraduate lectures. Furthermore, Dr. Louis is a participant in Scholarly Societies, such as the Radiological Society of North America, the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the BC Medical Association.
Nominated by Dr. Savvas Nicolaou, Head of Emergency Radiology
Clinical Excellence 2022 winner: Dr. Thomas Nevill
Dr. Thomas Nevill received his MD degree from University of Toronto (1984) and then undertook Internal Medicine (1984-87) and Hematology (1987-1989) at Dalhousie University. He received Royal College certification in Internal Medicine (1988) and Hematology (1989). He was accepted as one of the first cohort of Leukemia/BMT fellows at VGH under the tutelage of Dr. Gordon Phillips in July 1989. Dr. Nevill spent two years there for this training. He then returned to Halifax and started its stem-cell transplant program. He was there for the next five years.
Dr. Nevill returned to Vancouver to take up a staff position with the Leukemia/BMT Program in 1996 and is currently the clinical director of the L/BMT Program. He is the lead physician responsible for donor selection and new protocol developments.
Dr. Nevill has been the program’s clinical director for 14 years. His vast experience in all areas of patient care in malignant Hematology provides an in-house expert whose opinion is universally sought for challenging cases. His memory is encyclopaedic, while his advice is evidence based and coupled with a significant dose of common sense. This is a very important attribute in assisting in making critical decisions. Ultimately the clinical decision should be based on proceeding if something should be done and is likely to benefit the patient rather than because it is something that can be done.
Dr. Nevill has been and remains an outstanding teacher/mentor and colleague. He makes a great effort to educate junior colleagues and Fellowship trainees on such important aspects as donor selection, clinical protocol development and academic contributions.
Nominated by Dr. Stephen Nantel, Clinical Professor and Head of VCH/UBC Division of Hematology
Scientific Achievement 2022 winner: Dr. Najib Ayas
Dr. Najob Ayas graduated from the University of Alberta Medical School in 1992. Thereafter, he completed a rotating internship in Ohio, followed by an Internal Medicine Residency at the Mayo Clinic (1993-1996). From 1996-2000, he completed a Respiratory, Critical Care, and Sleep Fellowship at Harvard. He joined the faculty at Harvard from 2000-2002 (instructor) and joined the faculty at UBC in 2002. He was promoted to associate professor in 2007.
Dr. Ayas is a productive investigator in the field of sleep and sleep apnea. He has published 142 peer-reviewed papers over his career. His work has been cited more than 20,000 times with an h-index of 67 (Google Scholar); 48 of his papers have been cited more than 100 times. Although hindex cannot be used as sole metric of scientific impact, on average, full professors generally have an hindex between 12-24. His papers have been published in high impact Journals such as the NEJM (2 papers) and JAMA (5 papers). He has been successful in obtaining funding from multiple funding agencies including CIHR, NIH, MSFHR, BC Lung Association, MITACS, American Thoracic Society, Canadian Patient Safety Institute, VCHRI, and the UBC Strategic Investment Fund. This includes a recently funded CIHR Project Grant ($1.4 million) awarded in 2021 to explore precision medicine and ‘omics in sleep apnea. More recently, he has pursued activities related to development of innovative solutions to sleep apnea care leveraging physiologic data from sleep studies. In this regard, he has been a finalist in the VCH Foundation Innovators Challenge and a member of the team that placed first in the inaugural Change Agents Competition at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Dr. Ayas has achieved an international reputation in the field of sleep and sleep apnea. This is illustrated by his many leadership positions nationally and internationally. He was the Head of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Planning Committee for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology (2017-2019) and head of the Guideline Committee for Sleep Disordered Breathing Guideline Committee for the Canadian Thoracic Society. He is also an executive of the Canadian Sleep Society. He recently completed his associate editorship (Sleep Section) for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the premier Journal for Respiratory Medicine globally. He has also participated in multiple grant review panels (CIHR, NIH, Canadian Lung Association, MSFHR) nationally and provincially, been on multiple scientific program committees for national and international meetings, and lectured extensively locally, ationally, and internationally. He is the #1 expert in obstructive sleep apnea in Canada and top 20 in the world.
Nominated by Dr. Chris Carlsten, Professor of Medicine and Head, Division of Respiratory Medicine, UBC
Larry Collins Award for Committee Service 2022 winner: Dr. Fahreen Dossa
Dr. Fahreen Dossa is a member of the Department of Family and Community Practice. She dedicates herself in service to those in her department and to the medical staff in general by her hard work across a variety of committees. She is particularly passionate about physician wellness and about ensuring equity and inclusivity within our organizational structures.
Dr. Dossa has served on the following committees:
- Co-chair VCH Physician Wellness Steering Committee (2019-present)
- VCH Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee: Leadership and Talent Management
- Working Group (2019-present)
- VCH Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee: Culture and Environment Working Group (2020-present)
- VCH DEI Coalition Member
- VPSA Community Building and Wellness Committee (2019-present)
- VPSA Engagement Working Group (2019-2022)
- VCH Family Practice Rounds Planning Committee (2019 – present)
- VCH Board Nomination Selection Committee (2020)
Nominated by Dr. David Hall, Head, Department of Family and Community Practice – Vancouver
Bringing Clinical Renown to Vancouver Community of Care 2022 winner: Dr. David Thompson
As the year spent celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Canadian discovery of insulin draws to a close, it is appropriate to acknowledge another area of diabetes care where Canadian researchers are at the forefront. Dr. David Thompson’s research and leadership in stem cell research holds great promise to provide a cure for type 1 diabetes mellitus in our lifetime.
Dr. Thompson did his undergraduate work at UBC before completing endocrinology training at the University of California, San Diego. He has been a fixture of the Canadian landscape in diabetes in pregnancy for decades, heading the largest diabetes in pregnancy clinic in the province where he cares for thousands of patients. He has contributed important research in the field and played a major role in the Diabetes Canada clinical practice guidelines which govern essentially all practice in this area in the country.
While he continues to do clinical work in the field of diabetes in pregnancy, Dr. Thompson’s research focus shifted to type 1 diabetes later in his career. Along with Dr. Garth Warnock, he established the islet cell transplant program in British Columbia. This program was not a traditional clinical service but rather a comprehensive program where the procedure was performed as part of an ongoing international effort to develop evidence on the efficacy of islet cell transplantation in different clinical contexts. Although islet cell transplantation is indeed a benefit for some patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus, it is not a cure.
It was logical for Dr. Thompson to then switch to the field of stem-cell research in his pursuit of a cure. Along with Dr. Tim Kieffer and his team, Dr. Thompson has been the principal investigator on several stem-cell trials that showcase the evolution of the technology and its effects. His recent publications in this area have been showcased in the media as an example of the clinical and research excellence present at Vancouver General Hospital.
Nominated by Dr. Sandra Sirrs, Division of Endocrinology
Special Service 2022 winner: Dr. Randall White
Over the course of his work as the clinical director for the BC Psychosis Program at UBC Hospital, Dr. Randall White has made great efforts to forge a relationship with the BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS), a non-profit organization that supports families of people affected by this disorder and that advocates for more resources and better care for them. He has collaborated with the society in numerous ways that have benefited the organization as well as our health-care system.
Dr. White is on the BCSS’s medical advisory committee and was instrumental in 2021 in helping BCSS secure funding to carry on its work of educating families with such programs as Strengthening Families Together. This nine-session course provides practical and essential information for families. Family education and involvement is shown to improve patients’ outcomes and reduce relapses.
Another milestone was Dr. White’s participation as a member of an ad hoc organizing committee working with BCSS and the UBC Institute for Mental Health to hold the 2017 conference on Promoting Cognitive Remediation in BC. This was the first public event in BC to discuss the evidence base and possible implementation of cognitive remediation in our health-care system. This treatment modality, which is known to improve functional outcomes in people with schizophrenia, is available in other jurisdictions in North America and Europe. The BC Ministry of Health has subsequently recognized the significance of the modality and has shown interest in exploring how to make it more widely available. Clinicians at mental health teams in Vancouver have begun to incorporate aspects of it into their work with patients.
Dr. White has attended the BCSS’s AGM every year since 2013 to speak with members on topics of interest. He has met with BCSS members throughout the province and involved members in events sponsored by the American Psychiatric Association, of which he is the Western Canada District Branch president.
Other public education activities for which Dr. White has volunteered his time include appearing at the Frames of Mind mental health series in Vancouver on six occasions to discuss movies related to mental illness. He has given interviews for BCSS’s Look Again podcast series and had appeared on CBC and CTV.
Through his volunteer efforts, Dr. White has worked to equip families and people affected by baffling and highly disabled disorders with knowledge that allows them to make better choices, to navigate and give input into the health-care system, and to collaborate with clinicians and with each other to improve the well-being of patients and families. His public education activities help reduce the stigma of psychosis. He has through his actions that he takes seriously the CANMEDS role of advocacy, and his impact has gone far beyond the walls of the department’s programs.
Nominated by Dr. JJ Sidhu, Department Head and Medical Director, Vancouver Acute, Tertiary & Urgent Services
Excellence in Early Career 2022 winner: Dr. Marthe Charles
Having only been in her capacity as division head for Microbiology and Infection Control for three years and being a recently certified microbiologist, Dr. Marthe Charles has made her presence known with her innovative style and efforts. Both of these were apparent prior to the pandemic and have since become immeasurable. It is safe to say we could not be in more capable hands as a health authority without Dr. Charles during these times – she has become the leader of the laboratory in our hospitals.
Dr. Charles was able to set up a dedicated molecular COVID testing algorithm within weeks after the discovery of SARS-CoV-2. She assembled a team of dedicated scientists and technologists to run the test and maintain the highest standards of laboratory quality. She immediately approached the pandemic with a scientific mindset, encouraging her team to publish results in the validation of new testing methodologies and communicating the results in our health authority with the wider scientific community.
Under her leadership, the infection control physicians were able to work effectively with the laboratory to respond to outbreak and cluster investigations. At the height of the pandemic, Dr. Charles was also the lead researcher in an innovative clinical study in collaboration with TECK and TransLink, showing that copper is effective at killing bacteria on high-touch transit surfaces.
Nominated by Dr. David Schaffer, Head and Medical Director, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Community Service 2022 winner: Dr. Harish Neelakant
In his work as a psychiatrist at the Raven Song Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) program, Dr. Harish Neelakant had observed that patients with treatment-resistant illnesses were often not receiving evidence-based treatment. The barriers to recovery of non-adherence and treatment resistance have solutions including long-acting injectable medications and the antipsychotic clozapine, but patients were not having systematic assessment for these barriers nor being offered the appropriate treatments.
In 2018, Dr. Neelakant participated in the VCH Physician Led Quality Improvement program and noted that many patients were treated with a series of medications before being offered clozapine, which ordinarily should be the third medication offered. Physicians indicated a lack of confidence in prescribing this, and no workflows existed to facilitate community-based clozapine initiation that had mostly been taking place in acute care. In his PLQI project, Dr. Neelakant engaged the Raven Song MHSU and Early Psychosis Intervention teams to address some of these issues, but Vancouver Community has six other MHSU teams as well as Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams. Clearly a lot of work remained.
When Dr. Randall White became medical director of VC MHSU, he and Dr. Neelakant discussed how to address this problem systematically. They brought Dr. Rolando Barrios, then the VC SMD, into the discussion and, with his connections at the BC Centre of Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCfE), the concept of the Treatment Optimization of Psychosis Collaborative Quality Improvement Project, now known as TOP, evolved.
VC operational leaders saw the value of pursuing this QI initiative across programs given its emphasis on shifting care from acute to community and its promise of improved quality of life for clients. Funding through the VGH-UBC Hospital Foundation was key to enabling TOP, which officially got underway in June 2021.
Dr. Neelakant has been the driving force of TOP; he has co-led a team of BCCfE and VCH staff over the past 10 months to bring a higher standard of evidence-based care to teams in VC and one in Interior Health Authority. TOP has also been endorsed at the VCH regional level and the intention is for teams in other communities of care to adopt it.
Dr. Neelakant received the award for Community Excellence because his vision, tenacity, commitment to excellence, and skills in teamwork have resulted in demonstrable improvements in MHSU programs in Vancouver.
Nominated by Dr. Randall White, Medical Director, Vancouver Community Mental Health Services, and Dr. JJ Sidhu, Department Head and Medical Director, Vancouver Acute, Tertiary & Urgent Services
Excellence in DEI 2022 winner: Dr. Faisal Khosa
Dr. Faisal Khosa is an award-winning radiologist and scholar, but it is his work as a mentor, educator and advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) that has created a lasting legacy, not only to his profession and health care but also for the larger BC community.
Dr. Khosa leads a research program at the University of British Columbia focused on the gender and racial disparities in academia. With 210 peer-reviewed scholarly publications, his relentless pursuit to elucidate inequities in academia produced a multitude of evidence that has catalyzed initiatives to increase accessibility of higher education and achievement for underrepresented students. Dr. Khosa has translated his research findings into actionable guidelines for institutions in BC and Canada for the equitable inclusion of students, educators, and physicians. His research also provides opportunities to students and supports student-driven investigations on the inequities within academia.
Dedicated to his action plan to increase representation in higher academic ranks, Dr. Khosa personally mentors BC students, particularly students belonging to underrepresented groups in academia. These include female students, Indigenous students, students of colour, refugee students and students with physical and mental disabilities. Dr. Khosa has inspired many mentees to pursue medical school, clinical fellowships, and positions at institutions around the world. Dr. Khosa’s mentorship also extends past academia to Crofton High School, York House High School, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Scouts Canada and Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America where he is active in career development. As a testament to his tireless work ethic, Dr. Khosa has received over 100 positive testimonials from previous mentees.
To disseminate his work, Dr. Khosa has held seminars and workshops on anti-racism and the challenges of EDI at institutions including Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Physician Staff Association, and the Canadian Physicians Leadership Conference. Dr. Khosa is the co-chair of the UBC EDI Committee and member of the EDI committee of Vancouver Coastal Health, Canadian Association of Radiologists and American College of Radiology.
In recognition of his prolific research and advocacy against gender and racial disparities, Dr. Khosa received the Health Care Hero Award from Vancouver Coastal Health in 2018, and most recently the UBC Outstanding Academic Performance Award, the May Cohen Equity, Diversity and Gender Award from the National Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada in 2020 and Global Humanitarian Award of the American College of Radiology in 2021.
Nominated by Dr. Savvas Nicolaou, Head of Emergency Radiology