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Dear Colleagues,

Robert Buckman
Robert Buckman

Some of you will have heard of Rob Buckman’s death on the radio. It is a very sad day for many people including his wife, Dr. Pat Shaw, the many patients who valued his support and encouragement, and for all of us in the UHN family who counted on Rob to lift our spirits and give us his unique perspective on illness, treatment and living.

There are many things I’ll remember about Rob but the most vivid images I have of him are his enthusiastic support of many of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation’s events. Whether it was Rob standing in front of PMH and cheering on the walkers in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, or his dogged determination to finish each day of the cycling event, we knew that Rob Buckman would be there to lift people’s spirits and tell them that, if he could finish, then so could they. Above all, he was a tireless advocate for patients and unrelenting in his skillful efforts to help clinicians communicate more effectively. He was indeed a great teacher, and so many of us have a ‘Rob story’ we will always remember with a smile.

I know that there will be lots written and said about Rob Buckman in the coming days. He was a valued member of PMH and the UHN family and, on behalf of the many people who enjoyed his humour and his zest for living, I would like to extend my condolences to Pat, his friends and his family.

Bob Bell
(reprinted with permission from UHN NEWS)



Dear Colleagues,

Leith Douglas
Leith Douglas

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Leith Douglas on September 15, 2011. Dr. Douglas was a long-standing member of our Division and contributed to the training of a generation of plastic surgeons.

Leith earned his medical degree from Dalhousie University in 1962. He was a graduate of the University of Toronto Plastic Surgery Residency Program and completed additional fellowship training in Sweden, Austria and England. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1967. He practiced in Toronto at The Wellesley and St. Michael’s Hospitals and finished his career at the Toronto Western Hospital in 2011. He will also be remembered for his work as plastic surgeon to the Toronto Maple Leafs for 36 years.

Leigh Douglas was passionate about plastic surgery. He was an exceptional role model to many young trainees. He was a committed alumnus and a strong supporter of our work in the Division and we will all miss his presence at Division events. On a personal note, I will miss his sense of humour, witty comments and his clear love for plastic surgery and life in general.

We extend our sincere condolences to his wife Lorna, his daughter Ellen, son-in-law Peter Woodward and his three beloved grandchildren Julian, Caroline and Liam of Cobourg, Ontario. Donations may be made in Leith’s memory to The Salvation Army, 25 Centre Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M2M 2L4 or to the Palliative Care Unit at the Northumberland Hills Hospital, 1000 DePalma Drive, Cobourg, Ontario, K9A-5W6.

D.J. Anastakis
Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery


Ab Guha
Ab Guha

It is with great sadness that I inform you that Abhijit (Ab) Guha passed away peacefully in the early morning hours on November 8th, 2011. For the past 3 years, Ab has been courageously fighting his diagnosis of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). He was 54 years old.

Ab graduated with a degree in Medicine from the University of Toronto in 1982. He then entered the neurosurgery residency training program at the University of Toronto. In 1985, he received a Masters degree from the Institute of Medical Sciences under the tutelage of Charles Tator. He completed his neurosurgical residency training in 1989, and passed his Royal College specialty examination in neurosurgery that same year. Ab then traveled to Boston with his family to work as post-doctoral fellow with Charles Stiles at Harvard where he began his career long interest in neuro-oncology research. After his research fellowship at Harvard, Ab returned to the University of Toronto in 1993 to begin his faculty appointment as an Assistant Professor, and to conduct research in signal transduction mechanisms under the supervision of Tony Pawson at the Lunenfeld Research Institute.

Ab was promoted to Associate Professor in 1997, and to Full Professor in 2001. In 2000, he was appointed as the co-director of the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre (BTRC). In 2002, he was installed as the inaugural Alan and Susan Hudson chairholder in Neuro- Oncology at the University Health Network. He has served on numerous editorial boards, grants panels, and boards of private philanthropic foundations. His research focused on the molecular biology of human brain tumours, in particular, human astrocytoma. His lab has been well funded over many years by numerous peer-reviewed granting agencies. He published his work in top tier neuro-oncology journals. He was the President of the Society of Neuro-Oncology from 2005 - 2007, the largest neuro-oncology organization in the world.

Born in Kolkata, India, Ab devoted himself in recent years to the establishment of a Neuroscience Institute in Kolkata where he frequently traveled to teach, operate on patients with neurosurgical diseases, and educate the faculty there about research.

Ab was married to Soma, and had two children, Daipayan (Deep) a medical student at the University of Toronto, and Tia, an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. The Department of Surgery extends its most sincere condolences to the entire Guha family at this time.

James T. Rutka

The Department of Surgery at UHN lost a dear friend and committed supporter when Jim McCutcheon passed away suddenly on Monday morning. Jim was a long-time trustee, donor, and creative thinker whose focus at our hospital in the last 20 years was our department members and their accomplishments.

In 1989, Jim established the James Wallace McCutcheon Chair in Surgery which accompanied the position of Surgeon-in-chief, and each year since that, hosted two unique and special "McCutcheon dinners" which became highlights of the spring and fall seasons, where UHN surgeons would have the chance to meet and network across specialties. His main intent at all times was to support the young surgeons recruited to UHN, and was intensely interested in their progress.

Jim will be missed, but his legacy of support and friendship will live on. He leaves behind his wife Brenda and sons Doug, Fred, Grant and Murray. Donations may be made to the James Wallace McCutcheon Foundation, 100 Richmond St. West, Toronto M5H 3K6.

Shaf Keshavjee
James Wallace McCutcheon Chair in Surgery

The New Executive Committee of the Department of Surgery

Ori Rotstein
Ori Rotstein

I am pleased to report to you that Ori Rotstein has been appointed to the position of Associate Chair of the Department. He has taken over from Bryce Taylor who served the Department as Associate Chair for 15 years. Bryce performed his last surgical procedure last month, and will now be assisting UHN with its international outreach program in Kuwait.

Robin McLeod
Robin McLeod

I am also pleased to inform you that Robin McLeod has been appointed to the position of Vice-Chair Quality and Best Practices in the Department. Robin has been leading the Best Practices in General Surgery (BPiGS) initiative at the University of Toronto these past 5 years, and will lead efforts to encourage best practices across all Divisions in the Department.

Avery Nathens
Avery Nathens

With the institution of the Integrated Medical Education (IME) initiative in the Faculty of Medicine, it became clear to me that a new chair for the Department’s Appointments Committee was needed, and so I am pleased to report to you that Avery Nathens has agreed to take on this responsibility.



2011 Executive Committee of the Department of Surgery

RS McLaughlin Chair: James Rutka
Associate Chair: Ori Rotstein
Vice Chair Research: Ben Alman
Vice Chair Education: David Latter
Vice Chair Clinical: Robin Richards
Vice Chair Quality and Best Practices: Robin McLeod
Chair Departmental Appointments Committee: Avery Nathens

Departmental Promotions Committee

Sender Herschorn
Sender Herschorn

One of the most important roles of the Department of Surgery is the Chair of the Promotions Committee. Robin Richards will be stepping down from this position, having served in the role of Chair of the Promotions Committee for 10 years. I would like to thank Robin for his Herculean efforts as Chair of this Committee all these years. I am pleased to report to you that Sender Herschorn, Chair Division of Urology, has agreed to be the new Chair of the Promotions Committee for a 5-year term beginning July 1, 2011. Sender has served on the Department’s Promotions Committee and the Decanal Committee in the past, and is ideally suited to lead the charge here. I remind all faculty interested in pursuing promotions this year to ensure that they use the WebCV program for submission to the Department’s Promotion Committee.

Jim Rutka


The Stereotactic and Functional Fellowship at the Toronto Western Hospital has been accredited for the next five years by the Committee on Accreditation of Subspecialty Training (CAST) of the Society of Neurological Surgeons. The fellowship, supervised by Division Chair Andres Lozano and Mojgan Hodaie and Taufik Valiante, is the first CAST-accredited stereotactic and functional fellowship in Canada, and the third in North America.

This fellowship complements the CAST-accredited spine and pediatric neurosurgery fellowships at the University of Toronto.


Robert Maggisano Named the Inaugural University of Toronto Department of Surgery Chair in Vascular Surgery at Sunnybrook

Robert Maggisano
Robert Maggisano

Robert Maggisano has been named the inaugural Chair in Vascular Surgery at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The $3 million endowment fund will allow Robert Maggisano, a vascular surgeon at Sunnybrook, to enhance the development and evaluation of less invasive image-guided vascular interventions, with a strong focus on education.

A priority of the Chair will be to disseminate new knowledge to both students and practicing surgeons,” says Robert Maggisano, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto. “My motto is make a difference and make a difference now. By ensuring that new knowledge is applied to patient care, we can make a difference now in saving patients’ lives.” The clinical and teaching strengths of the Sunnybrook Vascular Surgery team has been boosted by the additions of Giuseppe Papia and Andrew Dueck.

Another priority for Robert Maggisano is to build bridges with industry to modify and develop new endovascular products for the benefit of patients. The Chair in Vascular Surgery at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre will ensure the organization is actively involved in evaluating, critiquing and developing new endovascular devices.

Please join me in congratulating Robert Maggisano on becoming the inaugural Chair in Vascular Surgery at Sunnybrook!


James T. Rutka,
RS McLaughlin Chair,
Department of Surgery, University of Toronto

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