Winners of the Alumni Awards of Distinction 2020

Posted on Monday, November 23, 2020

Awards from the Faculty of Medicine at uOtawa

On behalf of Dr. Bernard Jasmin, dean of the Faculty of Medicine, here are the 2020 recipients of the Alumni Awards of Distinction. This year’s awards were presented at a virtual ceremony via Zoom on Thursday, December 10 at 7 p.m. View the awards ceremony video.  

Exceptional Leadership Awards: Diane Allan, Dr. Naveed S. Mohammad, and Dr. Denise H. Werker
The Exceptional Leadership Award is presented to an alum who has demonstrated professional excellence, leadership and dedication to the community. This award honours excellence in advancing the delivery of health care working across academic hospitals and research pillars. The recipient is a true champion in the realm of medicine who demonstrates excellence as a community leader.

Diane Allan (MSc 2000): Diane Allan is the president of Measurement Canada, an agency of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Prior to starting her public service career, Diane worked in the biotechnology sector. In the 1990s, she began her public service career managing grants and contributions programs. She continually progressed into more senior roles in both policy development and operational delivery within the Health, Agricultural and Transportation portfolios in the Government of Canada.

Dr. Naveed S. Mohammad (MD 1990): Dr. Naveed Mohammad is currently president and CEO of William Osler Health System (Osler). Osler is one of Canada’s largest community hospital systems, serving 1.3 million people who live in a fast-growing and culturally-diverse region of the Greater Toronto Area. He is leading the hospital through an exciting time in its history as it delivers on its Vision of patient-inspired health care without boundaries. Previously, Dr. Mohammad was Osler’s executive vice-president, Quality, Medical and Academic Affairs where he helped strengthen quality of care and patient experience across Osler’s sites.

Dr. Mohammad joined Osler in 1997 as an emergency physician at Etobicoke General and has held a number of physician leadership  roles of increasing responsibility including being named Etobicoke General Site Chief,  Emergency Medicine in 2001 and Chief Emergency Services in 2006. As a senior leader, a physician, a donor, and a community member, Dr. Mohammad is passionately invested in ensuring quality health care services. He is proud of his South Asian heritage, and has taken an active leadership role in Osler’s SunLife Global Health program, which has carried out successful missions to India and Pakistan.

Dr. Denise H. Werker (MD 1980): Dr Denise Werker is a public health and preventive medicine specialist and clinical associate professor, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan.  She is currently assisting the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health with the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her public health practice spans all levels of government in Canada and international governmental organizations. She has practiced as a family doctor in rural and urban communities in British Columbia and served on various committees and boards of professional and non-profit organizations.

Previously, Dr. Werker was the Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer for the Province of Saskatchewan, she had a key role in prevention and control of communicable diseases. In the federal government, Dr Werker held positions in the Public Health Agency of Canada, Department of National Defence, and Health Canada. While in the federal government, Dr Werker played a lead role in developing a federal/provincial/territorial public health information sharing agreement, supervising the public health training of health professionals, coordinated many national outbreak investigations, and enabling field epidemiologists to participate in international efforts to eradicate polio and to control outbreaks, including the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Uganda in 2000/2001. From 2001 to 2006, Dr. Werker was a Medical Officer for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, where she had an essential role in the design and implementation of global surveillance for the multi-country outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and of avian influenza in 2004.

Lifetime Achievement Awards: Dr. Pnina Brodt and Dr. Guy A. Rouleau
The Lifetime Achievement Award honours a lifetime of significant contributions to the community and achievement in health care and medicine. Recipients are leaders in their respective field and have demonstrated professional excellence and selfless dedication over their years of work.

Dr. Pnina Brodt (MSc 1975): Dr. Pnina Brodt is a professor in the Departments of Surgery, Medicine and Oncology at McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre, where she has worked since 1983. Her research has focused on the biology of cancer metastasis, particularly the molecular events that underlie the process of liver metastasis. Dr. Brodt is also a co-leader of the Cancer Axis of the Research Institute at McGill and a co-founder of the Liver Metastasis Research Network—a multidisciplinary international network dedicated to uncovering the molecular mechanisms of liver metastasis for the betterment of patient care. She  has authored or co-authored numerous publications in such prestigious scientific journals as Nature Communications, Oncogene, Oncotarget, British Journal of Cancer, Clinical Cancer Research, Cancer Research, Journal of Clinical Investigations, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and International Journal of Cancer and edited several books on cancer metastasis.

Dr. Guy A. Rouleau (MD 1980): Dr. Guy Rouleau is the director of the Montreal Neurological Institute‐Hospital (The Neuro), chair of the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery of McGill University, director of the Department of Neuroscience of McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and co‐founder of the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute.

Dr. Rouleau's landmark achievements are his contributions to the identification of more than 20 disease-causing genes and his discovery of new mutational mechanisms. Over the last 25 years, Dr. Rouleau and his team have focused on understanding the genetic basis for diseases and identifying genes causing neurological and psychiatric diseases. He has published more than 850 articles in top peer-reviewed journals such as The Lancet, Cell, and Nature, as well as 50 review articles and book chapters. His work has been cited over 30,000 times. He has delivered more than 150 lectures around the world.

Dr. Rouleau is a winner of the Henry Friesen Prize from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada / The Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation. He is also an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Rouleau currently sits on the editorial boards of major scientific journals including Neurology of Disease and Annals of Human Genetics, and performs ad hoc reviews for more than 25 journals.

Rising Star Achievement Awards: Dr. Chris Cameron, Dr. Rafal Iwasiow, Dr. James A. Makokis and Dr. Ashnoor Nagji
This Rising Star Achievement Award recognizes an outstanding alum who has demonstrated professional excellence and exceptional leadership while making significant contributions to health care and medicine. This award honours young alumni with 10 to 20 years of professional experience in their medical specialty.

Dr. Chris Cameron (PhD 2015): Dr. Chris Cameron is a global thought leader in health economics and outcomes research with over a decade of experience. Prior to joining Eversana, a provider of global commercial services for the life sciences industry, Chris was a partner at Cornerstone Research Group Inc. and a lead of Health Economics at the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). Dr. Cameron is an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University and has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications in many of the world's top journals, including JAMA, The Lancet, and the BMJ. His research has been featured in the Globe and Mail and the New York Times. He was recently named one of the most prolific authors in the world on indirect treatment comparisons and was a co-author on the PRISMA-NMA reporting guidelines

Dr. Rafal Iwasiow (PhD 2005): Dr. Rafal Iwasiow is currently the vice-president, Innovation and Technology, at OraSure Technologies. OraSure is a leader in the development and distribution of point-of-care diagnostic tests, molecular collection devices and other technologies designed to detect or diagnose critical medical conditions. Prior to this, Dr. Iwasiow worked as vice-president, Research and Development, at DNA Genotek. Dr. Iwasiow joined DNA Genotek in 2006 as a research and development scientist. He contributed significantly to the company's patent portfolio in numerous areas including nucleic acid stabilization methods and physical sample collection devices. In 2008 he took on the responsibility of managing the product development team and has advanced his career through director level roles to his appointment as vice-president of Research and Development. Under Dr. Iwasiow's leadership, the research and development team contributed to successful 510(k) clearances of the Oragene-Dx collection device, the first non-invasive DNA collection device cleared by the FDA.

Dr. James A. Makokis (MD 2010): Dr. James Makokis is a Cree from the Saddle Lake First Nation in Northern Alberta. As a doctor, national presenter, and proud member of the LGBTQ2 and First Nation communities, Dr. Makokis offers a truly unique perspective. Dr. James Makokis has maintained his cultural beliefs and spiritual practices in all areas of his life. Dr. Makokis' strong connections to preventative health, spirituality, and two-spirit perspective have helped him save lives within the LGBTQ2 and First Nation communities.As the leader of  one of North America's most progressive and successful transgender focused medical practices, he facilitates the wellness of transgender people through supporting hormone replacement therapy. Dr. Makokis currently serves on several boards including the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto, and McEwan University's Indigenous Advisory Council. He and his partner, Anthony Johnson, were recently crowned the Season 7 winners of the Amazing Race Canada. 

Dr. Ashnoor Nagji (MD 2005): Dr. Ashnoor Nagji is a family physician who has chosen to provide international medical care to some of the world's most marginalized populations. She has traveled to over 80 countries and has treated patients in places such as Afghanistan, Tanzania, India, and Pakistan. No matter where she practises, Dr. Nagji believes that connecting with patients is what helps a physician hone critical skills. Dr. Nagji also recognizes the importance of considering how a patient's background affects their approach to medicine. For example, by valuing the Aboriginal culture of storytelling, she is able to gain more authentic access to patients' perspectives in the First Nation communities in the South Pacific and in Canada's arctic. Similarly, through a concerted effort to be culturally sensitive, Dr. Nagji was able to connect with women in Afghanistan. Recently her work has been recognized with the Ontario Medical Association's Glenn Sawyer Award for Community Service.


Diane Allan

Exceptional Leadership Award: Diane Allan

Naveed Mohammad

Exceptional Leadership Award: Dr. Naveed S. Mohammad

Denise H. Werker

Exceptional Leadership Award: Dr. Denise H. Werker

Pnina Brodt

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Pnina Brodt

Guy A. Rouleau

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Guy A. Rouleau

Chris Cameron

Rising Star Achievement Award: Dr. Chris Cameron

Rafal Iwasiow

Rising Star Achievement Award: Dr. Rafal Iwasiow

James A. Makokis

Rising Star Achievement Award: Dr. James A. Makokis

Ashnoor Nagji

Rising Star Achievement Award: Dr. Ashnoor Nagji


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