Ann Zalucky | Taking chances leads to great success

"Why not try?" is the mantra instilled by one of Ann Zalucky’s early mentors, Dr. Sofia Ahmed, a nephrology specialist at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM).

Author

Natasha Chalmers, Cumming School of Medicine

"Why not try?" is the mantra instilled by one of Ann Zalucky’s early mentors, Dr. Sofia Ahmed, a nephrology specialist at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). Ann is graduating this year, as part of the Leaders in Medicine (LIM) program and will be receiving her Doctor of Medicine and Master of Science with a focus on nephrology. Then she heads off this summer to complete her residency in internal medicine at the University of Toronto.

Ann’s path to medicine began while she was in high school, doing an internship at a local hospital, where she got to work with critically ill patients.  She was on a medical teaching unit that focused on internal medicine, and she hasn’t looked back.

In the second year of her undergraduate program at UCalgary, she did a nephrology project with a postdoc, Craig Steinback, who introduced her to Dr. Ahmed, and Ann has continued to work with her ever since. 

On why she chose to study at the Cumming School of Medicine, “[Dr. Ahmed and I] were bouncing around the idea of doing a Master’s, and I was 100 per cent on board. When I got into medicine here and other schools, it was a no-brainer, I wanted to finish this project. It was a win-win situation.” Ann’s current project with Dr. Ahmed looks at how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, affect how the kidney reabsorbs salt and how this may contribute to developing high blood pressure. 

If her studies and research didn’t keep her busy enough, Ann and one of her friends came across a Global Entrepreneurship Innovation Challenge several years ago, where they had to take a coat hanger and $50 and turn it into a prototype. With the "Why not?" mantra echoing through her mind, Ann and her partner entered the contest, and won. They came up with the idea to use a mesh net and a coat hanger to create a bed net for babies, to protect them from mosquitoes, which has come to be known as the MicroMalaria Project Ltd., an incorporated non-profit organization. Ann is currently connecting with an entrepreneurial community in Toronto and hoping to get some fresh ideas and revisit its development from there.

Throughout the past few years, she has also given regular talks at the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Haskayne School of Business, encouraging students to pursue areas of innovation, even if it does not necessarily involve a traditional path to the business world.

Through her experience in the Leaders in Medicine program, Ann highlights that “We have a wealth of opportunity at the University of Calgary. You can rub shoulders with giants and learn from them and be inspired by them.” Some of these "giants" include Dr. Jerrold Ellner, Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases at Boston Medical Center, and Dr. Harvey Fineberg, President of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and former President of the Institute of Medicine. 

Little does Ann know that she is that very inspiration for many of her peers, colleagues and future students of the CSM.

Tidbits from Ann

Things you may not know about Ann: Throughout her time at UCalgary, she has been an active member of SUSK, the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union. She is also involved in Ukrainian cultural activities around Calgary, whether it’s a commemorative event, or getting together with friends to eat perogies and to enjoy Ukrainian beer.

Awards: Ann was named an Avenue Magazine Top 40 under 40 winner in 2014.

On the Cumming School’s 50th anniversary celebration: "It’s incredible the amount we’ve achieved for a relatively young university. We don’t think about our achievements enough, we should give ourselves a pat on the back.”

What she most enjoyed about her time at the CSM: “Hands down the people. It is truly a family and you feel it from day one. It’s a bond that’s not easily broken. It really attracts a lot of humble, innovative and collegial students.”

Advice for incoming students: “Work hard in med school, but my motto has been, ‘Don’t let class get in the way of your education.' Explore, sink your teeth into opportunities. Why not?"