Nov. 19, 2020
2020 has been a spectacular reminder that we must always be prepared for change. The unexpected happens and a medical school needs to adjust quickly to meet the changing needs of our community.
The latest edition of UCalgary Medicine magazine highlights many ways we are responding to a world with changing needs. The coronavirus focused medical professionals around the world and Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) students, faculty, staff and alumni are among those pursuing discovery and new knowledge in response to the pandemic.
They are matched by our funders and the philanthropic support of donors who enable our pursuit of excellence. The University of Calgary completed the Energize campaign in 2020, a historic $1.41B capital campaign, of which the CSM accounted for more than half of the total.
The conclusion of the campaign provides an opportunity to thank the staff, alumni, donors, ambassadors and volunteers who enabled the campaign’s success. And gives us an opportunity to highlight a few areas that have evolved because of community support.
Innovation in medical research
A research team made up of talented CSM students and alumni developed the SeroTracker. It’s a knowledge hub that monitors, synthesizes and visualizes findings from SARS-CoV-2 antibody studies worldwide. The team is supported by the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, which plans to test one million Canadians for COVID-19 antibodies over the next two years and has published research in The Lancet.
Locally, the Calgary Family Medicine Teaching Centres are training sites for physicians and other disciplines in family medicine where learners are introduced to the Patient Medical Home concept. It allows family physicians to provide patient-centred and interdisciplinary care through virtual visits, while continuing in-person visits and providing patients with greater options for care.
Another multidisciplinary group of UCalgary researchers are investigating the mental health impact of COVID-19 on a large sample of children who are particularly vulnerable. This includes children who already suffer from chronic pain or a pre-existing anxiety disorder, as well as children who have a parent with mental illness.
Dr. Beverly Adams, MD, while serving as senior associate dean of education at the medical school, is leading research using magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound to improve the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Our people: the main drivers of success
Although 2020 provides us with a vivid reminder of the importance of preparing for change, one important aspect of our faculty remains the same. People are the main drivers of our success.
As a medical school, we recognize that our primary obligation is to meet the needs of the populations we serve. With that in mind, we are taking action to address systemic racism within the medical school. With the help of the Calgary Black Medical Students’ Association, we established a Black Applicant Admissions Process. Historically, there has been an under-representation of Black medical students in Canada and research suggests that a lack of Black physicians has resulted in Black patients suffering from a lower quality of care and poorer health outcomes.
Thank you to all for helping to creating the future of health, in a time of unpredictable change. Because of your commitment to excellence, we are making progress in many exciting ways.
Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Be kind and stay safe.
Jon Meddings, MD
Dean, Cumming School of Medicine
University of Calgary