A few weeks ago, under the brilliant sunshine outside of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, I was fortunate to find myself in the midst of a time honoured tradition, surrounded by throngs of graduating medical students, throwing their caps in the air and celebrating their journey to becoming a doctor. This spring, we graduated nearly 300 doctors, together with a wide range of health professionals, including midwives and genetic counsellors. This achievement is something for all us to be very proud of. It reminds us of the strength of the UBC Faculty of Medicine community, our deep commitment to society and of the importance of enabling the never-ending pursuit of health through knowledge and innovation.
This year, we continue to extend our reach beyond our borders to develop strategic partnerships around the world. Together with the Government of BC, we partnered with the Scottish Government to enable the enhancement and strengthening of our research capabilities through the sharing of data and best practices. On the other side of the hemisphere, we were equally honoured to join in partnership with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. This partnership will open up new exchange opportunities for both universities’ graduate and undergraduate students to pursue study and research abroad, as well as enable joint research activities in areas such as medical education, population health, chronic diseases and mental health.
Also taking centre stage are our notable advancements in Precision Health. A global university, UBC is widely considered a world leader in this emerging area. What seems clear today is that the future will be different. We have a potential paradigm shift in medicine ahead of us, a world where health care sustainability depends on our capacity to identify the signatures of health and disease earlier, and where early intervention will depend on our capacity to interpret and visualize data more effectively – a future where our current personalised medicine discussion merges into Precision Health.
Underpinning all of this – informatics, data analytics, data visualisation, and data access are key enablers to discovery and treatment. More investment in these areas is crucial, as are new government policies that unlock access to valuable health data. This will remain a priority area for us over the coming months and years ahead.
At the heart of the Faculty of Medicine is our people. Knowing that our institutional capacity depends so much on the qualities and contributions of the people among us, I am pleased to share a number of exciting new opportunities that will renew and invigorate our community as a Faculty.
I am pleased to announce the launch of the FoM Canada Research Chair (CRC) Tier 1 competition in the area of Life Course and Aging with a focus on Pediatric Precision Health. In addition, congratulations to the successful candidates from our FoM CRC Tier 2 competition which includes the creation of two external CRC T2 research chairs, one in Digital Health and another in Manipulating Gene Expression in the Brain, as well as advancing two additional internal CRC T2 nominations for Dr. Jennifer Hutcheon and Dr. Liam Brunham.
External searches underway include new heads for the departments of Medicine and Family Practice, and the School of Population and Public Health. Over the next four years we plan to recruit at least 30 new junior faculty, some to support the formation of an Academy of Translational Medicine, which will build and advance our capabilities in translation and innovation. Additionally, the University has strategically allocated two President’s Excellence Chairs to the Faculty, in the areas of brain health and precision oncology.
Enabling us to move forward with these strategic investments comes, in part, from achieving a balanced budget this past year. The faculty’s dedication and concerted efforts in fiscal prudence has restored our ability as a Faculty to move forward in meeting both internal and external demands for transformation and renewal.
This July we will witness the launch of our new School of Biomedical Engineering in partnership with the Faculty of Applied Sciences – a recognition of the rising importance of engineering and technology in our academic universe. Later this fall, a pilot mentorship and training program for clinical faculty will be offered as part of our commitment to lifelong learning.
As we finish another academic year and look ahead to the next, I am heartened by our faculty and staff’s commitment to training and supporting the next generation of healthcare providers and scientists, and working to improve the lives of patients and communities here in B.C., across Canada and beyond.
I hope you take time to enjoy summer and celebrate Canada 150+ with your family and friends. With many significant and unfortunate global events currently transpiring, it’s important to reflect upon how truly fortunate we all are to live in such a remarkable country.
Wishing you all a very happy Canada Day!
Dermot Kelleher, MD, FRCP, FRCPI, FMedSci
Dean, Faculty of Medicine
The University of British Columbia
PS: I highly recommend adding PATHWAYS to your summer reading list.