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Mike Hendry
Mike Hendry

In 2008, the Surgical Alumni Association endowed funds to support trainees within the Surgeon Scientist Training Program (SSTP). We are pleased to highlight the 2013-2014 recipients of the SAA Awards: Mike Hendry from the Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and Andrea Covelli from the Division of General Surgery. Here’s a bit about their research…

Mike’s research has investigated the pathobiology of peripheral nerve injuries and strategies to improve functional outcomes after surgical repair. One project focused on characterizing the cellular events that explain why side-to-side nerve grafts are able to protect against the harmful effects of chronic denervation. A second project explored the effects of administering the therapeutic monoclonal antibody Herceptin after surgical repair of peripheral nerves. The receptor targeted by this antibody is important in regulating the signals of a class of neurotrophic factors called “neuregulins”. Herceptin administration enhances several aspects of nerve regeneration and serves as one of the first pre-clinical demonstrations that therapeutic antibodies may be used as adjuncts to surgical repair.

Andrea Covelli
Andrea Covelli

The SSTP provided Andrea with the opportunity to complete her PhD at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation under the supervision of Drs. Nancy Baxter and Frances Wright. For her thesis, she completed a qualitative study examining factors that are influencing the changing surgical trends in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer (ESBC). Since the mid-2000s rates of unilateral mastectomy (UM) for treatment of ESBC have been increasing in both Canada and the United States. Despite no medical recommendations, there has also been an increase in the use of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM), for the treatment of unilateral ESBC in women who are at average risk of developing a contralateral breast cancer. “Through a qualitative exploration I have gained an understanding of those factors that are influencing women’s choice to undergo more extensive surgical management than is medically necessary. Examining the treatment decision-making dyad between patients and their surgeons has demonstrated that patients are the driving factor behind the increasing mastectomy rates. Despite evidence based consultations with the surgeon, a previous cancer experience was extremely influential in shaping women’s misperceptions about the risk and severity of ESBC. Although surgeons recommended against more extensive surgery, patients believed that by choosing UM+/-CPM they would substantially improve their cancer outcomes, over-estimating the benefit of mastectomy. While most women did not perceive any risks of undergoing more extensive surgery, many experienced long-term issues with pain, disturbed skin sensation, and body image. This research has demonstrated that there is a gap in the current surgical consultation process for ESBC; as overestimated risks and misperceived benefits influenced women’s choice for mastectomy. Given the potential for long-term complications, the choice to undergo mastectomy needs to be accurately informed about risks associated with ESBC, the net benefits of UM+/-CPM, and not based solely on the belief that more surgery equates to better survival.”

Darina Landa,
Senior Development Officer,
University of Toronto, Department of Surgery


Steve McCluskey (Thunder Bay) and James Drake (Hospital for Sick Children) (NeurSurg) were featured in a piece on neurosurgical tele-mentoring in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal.

Amir Dehdashti (NeurSurg) is Director of Cerebrovascular Research and Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. http://www.northshorelij.com/hospitals/

Betty Kim (NeurSurg) is Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Florida.

Demitre Serletis (NeurSurg) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine: http://www.uamshealth.com/News/Neurosurgeon DemitreSerletisM.D.Ph.D.JoinsUAMS?id=5349

Sean Smith (NeurSurg) recently returned to Barbados and is presently a Consultant Neurosurgeon at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital:

Peter Pahapill (NeurSurg) is Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Director of Functional Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Ann Parr (NeurSurg) is Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota, Director of Spinal Neurosurgery, and a faculty member of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and the Stem Cell Institute.

Ali Rezai (NeurSurg) is Director of the Ohio State University (OSU)Neuroscience Program, Stanley and Jodi Ross Chair in Neuromodulation, Associate Dean of Neurosciences, Professor of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience, and Director of the OSU Center for Neuromodulation at Ohio State University.

Martin Tisdall (NeurSurg) is a consultant paediatric neurosurgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital (London, UK).

Former Toronto alumna Susan MacKinnon (PlasSurg) gave a great, honest, passionate and inspirational TEDx talk about Pioneering Surgery:

Surgical alumnus Martin Barkin (Urol) is stepping down as Chair of the Surgical Alumni Association (SAA) having served in this capacity for several years. Under his leadership, the SAA has made significant advancements in its computerized alumni database, outreach to alumni, and planning of numerous alumni events. For his efforts as Chair of the SAA, Martin recently received an Arbor Award from the University of Toronto.

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