Untitled Page



Calvin Law
Calvin Law

I am delighted to announce that Calvin Law has been appointed as the new Head, Surgical Oncology, Odette Cancer Program, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

A Search Committee that included leaders from Cancer Care Ontario, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto East General Hospital, North York General Hospital, and the Odette Cancer Program unanimously recommended the appointment of Dr. Law as the new Head, Surgical Oncology.

Calvin is a hepatobiliary-pancreatic and gastrointestinal Surgical Oncologist at the Odette Cancer Centre. He is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto, with a cross-appointment to the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. He is also the Site Lead for gastrointestinal oncology at the Odette Cancer Centre.

Academically, Calvin currently holds the Hanna Family Research Chair in Surgical Oncology at the University of Toronto and serves as an Adjunct Scientist for the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences. His broader academic work includes serving as a graduate student supervisor for the Surgeon Scientist Program at the University of Toronto, a member of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Group at the Program in Evidenced Based Care for Cancer Care Ontario and an Examiner for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He also serves as the national chair for the Canadian NET Alliance and national co-chair for the Canadian HiPEC Collaborative Group.

Calvin completed medical school training at the University of Toronto and general surgery training at McMaster University. He completed surgical oncology training at the University of Toronto and earned a Masters degree in Public Health at Harvard University.

Please join me in congratulating Calvin as he assumes this important leadership role.

Andy Smith
Chief, Odette Cancer Program, Sunnybrook &
Regional Vice President, Cancer Care Ontario



Ara Keresteci
Ara Keresteci

Ara Gabriel Keresteci passed away peacefully on November 14, 2011 at the age of 82. Ara was born in Istanbul, Turkey and graduated from Istanbul University Medical School in 1954. He did postgraduate training at the St John’s Episcopal Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, before coming to Canada. Following further surgical training at the University of Toronto, he joined the Department of Surgery in the Division of Urology at the Wellesley Hospital where he worked for over 30 years caring for thousands of patients. Following the closure of the Wellesley Hospital in 2002, he worked at St Michael’s Hospital until his retirement in 2004. Dr Keresteci was a beloved clinical teacher who helped train a generation of urologists at the University of Toronto.

James Rutka

Oleg Safir Appointed as Director of the Surgical Skills Centre at Mt Sinai Hospital

Oleg Safir
Oleg Safir

I am pleased to inform you that after a comprehensive search, Oleg Safir, Division of Orthopedics, Mt Sinai Hospital, has been appointed as the new Director of the Surgical Skills Centre at Mt Sinai Hospital to replace Helen MacRae who will be stepping down from this position after having served successfully for a 10 year term. Oleg received his FRCSC in Orthopedic Surgery in 2006. He was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery in 2007. He then completed a Masters in Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in 2009. He has been actively involved in the competency based curriculum (CBC), and helped design the Boot Camp in Orthopedics this past year. He has over 45 publications since 2007, and holds grants on the performance of technical surgical skills from several granting agencies. Oleg began his new position effective December 1st, 2011. Please help me welcome Oleg Safir as the new Director of the Surgical Skills Centre.


Helen MacRae Takes Lead as Colorectal Surgery Program Director

Helen MacRae
Helen MacRae

Helen MacRae has successfully completed a 10 year term as the GH Gales Director of the Surgical Skills Centre (SSC) at Mt Sinai Hospital. While in this position, Helen has brought great acclaim to the SSC not only with her oversight of the expansion of the unit in 2007, but also with her dedication and devotion to creating an academic skills centre with outstanding publications and grants that were highly focused in the field. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Helen sincerely for her extraordinary efforts with the SSC these past 10 years.

Helen MacRae has been appointed as the Colorectal Surgery Program Director, succeeding Marcus Burnstein who has served in this capacity for the last 16 years.


General Surgery Receives MIS Fellowship Accreditation

The Division of General Surgery has received full accreditation by the Fellowship Council for their MIS (Minimally Invasive Surgery) fellowship. Congratulations to Allan Okrainec and the faculty, fellows, and residents who took part in the accreditation process.

Non-clinician Scientist Retreat

A special retreat for Non-clinician Scientists (NCS) was held on November 23rd, at the Chestnut Residence to discuss challenges and opportunities facing scientists within the Department of Surgery. There were over 30 participants.

Presentations were given by several new faculty scientists regarding their research programs. Andras Kapus reviewed the results of a survey that was performed this year, and compared to an identical one performed a few years ago with interesting results and trends. Karen Davis, Mingyao Liu, Geoff Fernie, and Cari Whyne discussed the successes and obstacles for continued collaborations between clinician and non-clinician researchers. The afternoon session included perspectives from leaders in the Research Institutes in the city with Gwen Burrows, Director Strategic Projects at Sick Kids, Michael Julius, Research Director Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Research Institute, Jim Woodgett, Research Director Mt Sinai Research Institute, and Mansoor Husain, Research Director Toronto General Research Institute as panelists. Vice Dean of Research in the Faculty of Medicine Alison Buchan also participated, and provided many insightful comments.

The main discussion points from this retreat will be used to inform the ongoing Strategic Planning process in the Department of Surgery to improve the support at multiple levels for scientists within the Department of Surgery. We thank Andres Kapus for organizing the retreat this year.


Access to World Science

Doug Kondziolka
Doug Kondziolka

A team at the University of Pittsburgh led by U of T alumnus Doug Kondziolka of neurosurgery and Ken Sochats of Information Science have led a four year project to create a fully functional science network. This will enable all involved to learn the elements of writing a scientific paper, while they participate in a multi-author collaborative environment.

World Science is a free, web-based network where authors write collaboratively, and anyone can use, research, read, combine and ask questions of peer-reviewed information. This has first been launched fully (key words and drop down data menus) for the neurosurgery and radiation oncology communities, but articles can currently be written for any discipline. There are opportunities for interested students to participate in development for their own future subspecialty (just contact Doug at kondziolkads@upmc.edu)

Articles can be written in the network, removed for submission elsewhere, or submitted within World Science for a novel and enhanced peer review process - actually allowing the process of peer-review to be studied for the first time. Articles published in World Science have full interactive functions including the ability to combine and analyze data from multiple articles with one click, and ask questions of articles directly without reading the full report. "Help" is already in 10 languages.

It can be accessed at www.world-sci.com. Upon entering, request a beta invitation. You can then click "edit me" after log-in to create your own password. Once you have the password, you can start to write any kind of article.


Natalie Coburn Appointed Head of Division of General Surgery, Sunnybrook

Natalie Coburn
Natalie Coburn

Natalie Coburn has been appointed Head of the Division of General Surgery in the Department of Surgery at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Natalie has also taken on the role of Clinical Leader for Quality and Patient Safety in the Division of General Surgery.

James Rutka



Michael Fehlings’ work on the return of function after early surgery for spinal injured patients was featured by the Toronto Star in a piece entitled "Speedy surgery lessens chance of paralysis in cervical spinal cord injuries" (http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1135917--speedy-surgery-lessens-chance-of-paralysis-in-spinal-cord-injuries). This work on early surgery in spinal injuries was published inPLoS ONE and represents an important milestone in this field.

Andres Lozano


Michael Tymianski, Division of Neurosurgery, Toronto Western Hospital received attention from the Globe and Mail for his success in performing outpatient craniotomy for cerebral aneurysms through a minimally invasive approach. The full story is found on line at the Globe and Mail, February 22, 2012.(http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/conditions/brain-health/a-world-first---day-surgery-for-cerebralaneurysms/article2346364/).

This work is a world-first for aneurysm surgery and represents a paradigm shift in the way that the procedure is regarded and conducted.


Ian McGilvray, Division of General Surgery, member of the multi-organ transplant program at the Toronto General Hospital, was featured in the Toronto Star February 24, 2012 (http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1136621--toronto-surgeon-redefines-hopeless-cancer-cases), for his groundbreaking work operating on patients with advanced liver cancer. With his technique, the cancer is removed using a modified "ex vivo" approach.

James Rutka

Shafie S. Fazel Outstanding Resident Surgeon and Investigator Award

The Shafie S. Fazel Outstanding Resident Surgeon and Investigator Award has been set in memory of Dr. Shafie S. Fazel, an outstanding resident within the Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Toronto. The award will be presented annually to a senior resident in his or her last year of training within the Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments during their residency both as a surgeon and as an investigator.

Each division within the Department of Surgery will be asked to submit the name of one potential candidate. Nominations must be accompanied by a letter of support from the division’s Program Director, outlining how the nominee meets the criteria. The award will consist of a monetary prize in the amount of $1000.00, along with a plaque bearing the name of Shafie S. Fazel.

On the Nature of Great Science Performed by Surgeons

Two surgeons in our Department published papers in the premiere scientific journal, Nature, within a month of each other. These incredible studies have shed light on the important disease processes of cancer and stroke, and have brought great credit to our Department.

In February, Michael Taylor, Division of Neurosurgery, the Hospital for Sick Children, and colleagues published their studies on the genetic origins of metastases in pediatric medulloblastoma, the most common malignant pediatric brain tumour (1). Interestingly, Michael used the powerful Sleeping Beauty transposon system as a tool to develop cerebellar tumours in mice, and to identify genes that lead to formation of metastases. Using high throughput and ultra-high resolution genetic mapping and DNA sequencing techniques on numerous primary pediatric medulloblastoma specimens, Michael showed that the metastatic tumours had new mutations which were not part of the original or primary tumours. His study suggests that neurosurgeons may wish to consider biopsying the metastases of medulloblastoma now given the fact that they harbor different genetic lesions, and are likely best treated with different strategies than the primary tumour. The first author of the Taylor Lab publication is Xiaochong Wu, a postdoctoral fellow in the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre.

In March, a research study from Michael Tymianski’s laboratory was also published in Nature. Michael is Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, and Senior Scientist in the Toronto Western Hospital Research Institute. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability. To identify a strategy for improving stroke therapy, where previously so many trials and agents have failed, Michael and his co-authors used an inhibitor postsynaptic density protein (PSD)-95, an inhibitor that Michael had previously demonstrated to be effective in the prevention and minimalization of brain injury after stroke, to show that this inhibitor could be effective in the brains of non-human primates (2). Cerebral infarct volumes were reduced after inhibitor therapy as measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), histology, and behavioural and neurological examinations. Their research findings are exciting and timely, as they suggest that neuroprotection using PSD-95 inhibitors in humans should also be possible to improve stroke outcome in patients. The first author on Michael’s publication is DJ Cook, a neurosurgery resident enrolled in the Surgeon Scientist Program (SSP) in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto.

While I have not performed an exhaustive literature search on high impact publications by our faculty, the publication of these two Nature papers occurring in sequential months in 2012, is likely a first in the Department of Surgery. For those interested, the Impact Factor of Nature is 36. On behalf of the Department of Surgery, I should like to congratulate the two Michaels and their research teams for their incredible research achievements, and for bringing great credit to the University of Toronto.

James T Rutka

(1) Wu X, Northcott PA, Dubuc A, Taylor MD, Clonal selection drives genetic divergence of metastatic medulloblastoma. Nature February 2012

(2) Cook DJ, Teves L, Tymianski M, Treatment of stroke with a PSD-95 inhibitor in the gyrencephalic primate brain. Nature March 2012

The 29th Annual E. Harry Botterell Visiting Lectureship in Neurosurgery

On November 10th 2011, the Toronto Western Hospital was host to the 29th Annual E. Harry Botterell Visiting Lectureship in Neurosurgery. We welcomed Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery at the University of Miami Jacques Morcos, who delivered three excellent talks entitled "The temporal bone in skull base tumor surgery: The conquest of the rock", "Cerebrovascular surgery: The future is not what it used to be ... and other random thoughts!" and "Endoscopic endonasal surgery: One man’s limits, another man’s playground". Professor Morcos also served on the judging panel for this year’s William J. Horsey Prize, which recognizes the best clinical research presentations by Univeristy of Toronto neurosurgery residents. Congratulations to PGY3 resident Safraz Mohammed, who took first prize for his talk entitled "Idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus: A study of outcome measures, utility and health status" and to PGY4 resident David Cadotte who won second prize for his work entitled "Keeping up with the times: A citation based curriculum".

This year’s Botterell program was modified to include a special tribute on November 11 to Dr. Ab Guha, our distinguished neurosurgeon-scientist at Toronto Western Hospital and valued colleague, who passed away earlier that week. In attendance were Dr. Guha’s wife Soma and his children Deep and Tia, along with a strong showing from the University of Toronto and University Health Network communities who filled the Main Auditorium at the Western. The session was led by Dr. Fred Gentili and followed by moving tributes from Dr. Alan Hudson, past Chair of our Division, and from Dr. Gelareh Zadeh, who completed her PhD degree under Dr. Guha’s supervision.

Mark Bernstein, the Greg Wilkins-Barrick Chair in International Surgery at Toronto Western Hospital, has been instrumental in the establishment of a special named lecture dedicated in honor of Dr. Guha and his surgical philanthropic work. The first annual Ab Guha Lecture will be presented in May 2012 at the Bethune Round Table, a three-day meeting co-organized each year by Dr. Bernstein for approximately 50 surgeons from resource-poor countries to come to Canada to present their work and advance their surgical knowledge.

Andres Lozano


We are pleased to announce that Dr. Charles Tator will have a lecture named in his honor by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/ Congress of Neurological Surgeons (AANS/CNS) Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care. This is a well-deserved recognition of Charles’s tremendous accomplishments and contributions in the field.

PGY4 resident Jeff Wilson has been selected for the Synthes Spinal Cord Injury Resident Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) for his work entitled "A Prediction Model for Functional Outcome after Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury". This award is given for the best resident spine abstract to be presented at the 80th AANS Annual Scientific Meeting in Miami on Apr. 14-18, 2012 and we congratulate Jeff on this accomplishment.

Andres Lozano


Slo-pitch Tournament

The Department of Surgery will be hosting a slo-pitch tournament in the spring of 2012. If you would be interested in signing up for this event, please let Stephanie know at s.neilson@utoronto.ca or 416-946-4003.

Skip Navigation Links